Hard-Fi
Killer Sounds


2.5
average

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
August 23rd, 2011 | 64 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The album title is a cryptic clue of Hard-Fi’s new direction: Killer S(ounds).

Whether it was a case of “wrong place” or “wrong time”, one can’t help but feel a little for Hard-Fi. The English outfit had built up significant momentum with the release of their successful debut LP ‘Stars of CCTV’ in mid-2005. The album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and on its way to having one million copies sold, with no less than five singles entering the U.K Top 20 charts. More than that, it was a damn fine collection of tunes with the quartet showcasing a diverse range of musical styles and some authentically relatable working class storytelling in amongst their pleasingly unorthodox catchiness. Yet, all the while, there was another – not entirely dissimilar - band destined to steal their thunder. Releasing their debut EP at approximately the same time, the word of mouth for Sheffielders Arctic Monkeys was like nothing that had come before. So when ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ took the world by storm in October of that year, it unfortunately became more of a case of “Who-Fi”.

Upon lukewarm critical reaction to their enjoyable enough second LP ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’, it has taken four years for Hard-Fi to release their follow-up, with the main reason for the delay being the availability of co-producers Stuart Price (Madonna), Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen) and Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails). More pertinently, all three have worked with Las Vegas quartet The Killers, hinting at the direction the band have taken on their third album ‘Killer Sounds’. Make no mistake about it, the prominent use of electronics here means that this is not the Hard-Fi of old, and will feel like an absolute clusterf*ck on first listen. There is many a "WTF" moment, with 'Love Song' and 'Sweat' feeling as though they are going to burst out into a Donna Summer disco cut, while the horrendous 'Excitement' begins like a poor man's 'The Message', before somehow working in a hair-metal guitar solo. Hell, 'Feels Good' manages to combine a sitar, cheesy rhymes and yet another misplaced solo!

So how, you may ask, do Hard-Fi manage to muster a passable album out of this mess? Well, deep down, 'Killer Sounds' still contains all of the band's defining qualities: The quirky catchiness, the accessible indie aesthetic, Richard Archer's charming vocals and relatable lyrics... They are all still there to some extent, it's just that they are buried beneath the musical chaos that is taking place all around them. The album is clearly at its best when keeping things straight-forward, like on the pulsing beat of 'Fire In The House', the mild ska influences of lead single 'Good For Nothing', and the simplistically repetitive - but oh so addictive - choruses of the exuberantly playful 'Give It Up' and 'Stop'. It's just a shame that the album's latter half runs off the rails into clubsville, since by the time the half-decent semi-acoustic closer comes around, anything even resembling Hard-Fi's older sound seems terribly ill-fitting on such a record.

I suppose Hard-Fi should be given some credit for attempting to reinvent themselves before fading away into tedium. In a sense it is "mission accomplished" in that 'Killer Sounds' is rather memorable... Unfortunately, it is not always memorable for the right reasons. While Archer has officially retained co-producing duties, his band's third LP too often feels like a vehicle for his three hired guns. Just as the Arctic Monkeys do not belong in the American desert, Hard-Fi has little to no place at a London rave. It is such a waste really, since the catchy songwriting nous that still makes 'Killer Sounds' bearable, is also why it is such a disappointment. Let us just hope that the quartet can learn from the experience and come back a bigger and better band fourth time around.

Recommended Tracks: Good For Nothing, Give It Up & Stop.



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user ratings (17)
Chart.
2.3
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

To quote NME, this is "batshit strange".

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


28785 Comments


haha hard-fi

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hey, I like(d) them. 'Stars of CCTV' is seriously under-rated.

bloc
August 23rd 2011


35004 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Dude Stars of CCTV ruled

And OMG THE MEMORIES OF THIS BAND

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If bloc likes them, everyone should like them. This one will shock you though bloccy.

Hmmm, I dunno if its best that the 'S' & 'ounds' is separated (both on this page & the front page). I was kinda looking forward to someone saying "I don't get the summary".

bloc
August 23rd 2011


35004 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If these guys took a page from The Killers then damn I am excited

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


7318 Comments


I DON'T GET THE SUMMARY.

(seriously, I don't lol)

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

MaskAtTheMasquerade
August 23rd 2011


2888 Comments


these guys have like a handful of good songs

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bloccy, how much did you like 'Day & Age'?

I'm not sure what to say Irving.

I have big hands MATM. I thought their debut was really consistent & pretty much all but a couple of songs could have been released as a single.

bloc
August 24th 2011


35004 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Uh oh....I haven't even heard that album of theirs....

Maize
August 24th 2011


155 Comments


what am this sound like

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2011


7318 Comments


Oh wait. I do.

*blush*

outline
August 24th 2011


563 Comments


I get the summary.

Awesomesauce
August 24th 2011


1084 Comments


Man, I'd forgotten all about these guys. Agree (for once) that CCTV was severely underrated. Shits all over any Arctic Monkeys material. Still, I reckon you were pretty generous with the 2.5 here Davey. This is terrible.

kanecooper
August 24th 2011


630 Comments


didn't like cctv, would probably hate this

Awesomesauce
August 24th 2011


1084 Comments


Most likely.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ahhh bloc, that is quality. Well, listen to Day & Age and this album in one sitting. It will be synth overload.

"what am this sound like" Ummm, what?

Hehe Irving. We all have our blond moments mate.

Sauce, that's what happens when a band don't release an album for 4 years. Of course, our agreeing doesn't last long, as I think the Arctic Monkeys debut LP is better than CCTV.

Like I said in the review, on 1st listen this is a mess. I had it at a low 2. Most of the first half does grow on you though. The catchiness is still there, it's just buried under a lot of average synth.

Awesomesauce
August 24th 2011


1084 Comments


Yes, our love is fleeting. I'll give it another few spins, but only coz I like you.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Oh, having the lyrics in front of also helped a little. They weren't required on their previous albums, but this time around you need them just to get your mind off of all that noise.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2011


6505 Comments


one can’t help but feel a little for Hard-Fi.

Why should I feel little for Hard-Fi? ;)

Damn, what's with all these cool bands from a couple years earlier trying all the synths and electronics...

Digging: Recondite - Iffy



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