Top positive review
8 of 8 people found this helpful
An indie-rock classic
on 1 August 2007
This is an incredibly accomplished debut album - a blistering set of songs with not one dud track amongst them. Weaving together a diverse range of influences, Hard-Fi spin tales of everyday life and love, but they somehow manage to turn this ordinary premise into a collection of tracks unlike anything you've heard before. Their influences encompass everything from traditional Britpop-indie to ska, dub, reggae, pop and dance, informing the nous and flexibility that made 'Hard to Beat', arguably the standout track, a club anthem as well as a festival favourite.
Every track crackles with energy - this is the raw sound of disenchanted youth on the edge of greatness, determined to break out of a grey backwater and head for the bright lights of the city. Anyone who's ever been stuck in a dead-end job will identify with frontman and songwriter Richard Archer's vignettes of everyday working-class life; there's the anguish of being broke on 'Cash Machine', the elation of a new crush on 'Hard to Beat', the bitterness of the subsequent break-up on 'Better Do Better', joy at the prospect of two days and nights of freedom on 'Living for the Weekend'. 'Middle Eastern Holiday' is as fierce and vitriolic an anti-war song as you'll hear anywhere, but like the rest of the tracks, it's written from a heart-wrenchingly personal point of view. Along with 'Feltham is Singing Out', it illustrates Hard-Fi's ability to tackle social issues with breathtaking effectiveness, while skilfully avoiding making their songs into political polemics. The title track is a fitting close to the album - a sublime paean to a world in which every move we make is caught on camera, it all hinges on Archer's sneering refrain of 'can't you see the camera loves me', his voice dripping with sarcasm. It's a song which captures the spirit of the album perfectly.
I can't recommend this stunning record highly enough; it's one of the most affecting, evocative and true-to-life albums I've ever heard. It deserves to be regarded as a true British classic - it's certainly on a par with (if not, dare I say it, better than) Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys' debuts. If this breathtaking album isn't already a part of your collection, it most definitely should be.