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4.0 out of 5 stars45
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 25 September 2007
Hard-Fi's debut 'Stars of CCTV' is one of the best albums I have ever heard, so I was very, very excited about the release of 'Once Upon a Time in the West'. Unfortunately, I've got to say that, although it's a good, solid record, this sophomore effort just doesn't live up to its predecessor.

Lead single 'Suburban Knights', with its chanted refrain, is a good enough singalong, but it feels more than a little like a Kasabian pastiche - and Hard-Fi are (or were) better than that. In places, the band appear to have lost their edge; the passion and anger that made their debut so thrilling seem dulled, and the lyrics about ordinary working life now ring hollow. Most baffling is the decision not only to include 'Can't Get Along (Without You)' - a track first recorded by frontman Richard Archer's previous band Contempo - but also to release it as a single. In my opinion, this is the worst song Hard-Fi have ever recorded; the lyrics are cringe-inducing. As a long-time fan, I can't understand why the band would include a track like this when they've had far better B-sides - the anthemic 'Stronger', for example, and their scintillating cover of the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army'.

This certainly isn't to say that the album is all bad. The bitter, defiant 'I Shall Overcome' has a great gospel-influenced chorus. Strings are used to fantastic effect on 'Watch Me Fall Apart' and 'Tonight', giving the songs an air of grandeur that was absent from the first album. 'We Need Love' sounds like a football chant as mixed by Goldfrapp - no bad thing, since this brings an experimental edge to the band's sound. There's a couple of tracks, most notably 'Television', that have incredibly weak verses but still boast Hard-Fi's trademark powerful choruses. Because of this, the record becomes more likeable the more you play it and familiarise yourself with the songs.

'Once Upon a Time in the West' is a good album, with a few standout tracks; and if you're already a Hard-Fi fan, or if you like 'Suburban Knights', you'll find it very listenable. But if you're new to the band, my advice would be to buy the far superior 'Stars of CCTV' - in my opinion, a record good enough to be called a bona fide classic, with every song good enough to be made a single.
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on 6 September 2007
Following their very successful Stars of CCTV I was concerned they were going to be like many one-album bands out there. This album shows they hadn't used up all their creative juices in one go.

A good mixed bag of tracks.. they've managed to retain their identity without becoming caricatures of themselves.. all too often the 2nd album involves giving the audience more of the same, but sometimes cliched.

This album is still definitely Hard Fi, with the moody lead vocals and echoing harmonica on some tracks. If feels like the record company have spent more on this album.. to some it may sound too polished, not raw and gritty like their first effort, even though I've seen them live perhaps I'm not a Hard Fi purist and not so precious of "their sound" so I don't mind this new album as much as the other critics.

Get this album !
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on 5 September 2007
I have been eagerly awaiting this album for some time following the success of Stars of CCTV, which is still one of my favourite albums to date. Of course, being the 2nd Studio album leaves you with thoughts such as 'will it be as good as the first one?' I picked up the album 2 days ago, and I am absolutely blown away by the overall quality of both the individual tracks and the album as a whole, it has enjoyed 6 whole plays in my car up to now!

The opener, Suburban Knights, was the only track I had heeard from the album before purchasing, as it had been played all over the Radio previously. Following this track comes Watch me Overcome, Tonight and Watch me Fall Apart, a more mellow collection of songs, very haunting and in a whole new style not really covered in Stars of CCTV. The album Picks up the Pace again in I Close my Eyes and Television, leading into the brilliant Help Me Please. This is followed by the ultimate feelgood Can't Get Along Without You, and the singalong We Need Love. The album ends on a brilliant note with Little Angel and the lyrically amazing The King.

After my first listen of the album, I was amazed at the new sound the band have explored, and what I thought would be a similar style that really worked in Stars of CCTV (which was at the time unlike any band/artist in the mainstream) the band have explored a new avenue, and exceeded the previous album indefinately, with songs sounding so much more bold, epic and bringing a story to the song. Maybe i'm the only one who thought this, but in songs like Watch me Fall Apart and The King, the lyrics seemed to play out a story in my head!

Of course, the new style may throw some huge fans of the original album, but then again, I am a huge fan of Stars of CCTV, and I love the latest offering!
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on 29 August 2007
Suburban nights -4 A good sing along single
I shall overcome -3 hasn't caught me yet but a good gutsy number
Tonight - 5 a really well written song great verse and chorus. A possible single? Love the sub bass drum
Watch me fall apart -4 think this ones gonna grow on me, really interesting string arrangement rather sixties style got a haunting feel to it this one
Close my eyes -4 a raw rocker this one reminds me of early Kinks in places good to give a shift of gear to the album
Television -5 great track lots of subtle shifts of emphasis upfront reggae influences here and there and a lot of Clash type melodics
Help me please -5 A classic great catchy pop song with a deep emotional thread throughout a sad story
Can't get along -3 not bad like when it shifts into a sixties style whoo-oo towards the end. gonna be a good gig sing a long
We need love -5 would make a great single instantly catchy and shows the band moving on style wise
Little Angel -3 definitely in the style of the last album a good rocker
The King -5 another great song with 12 string guitar lots of emotion and a beautiful melody.Very atmospheric

So hard-fi are moving on style wise at a pace that won't leave their fanbase behind and won't find them going stale. Just the right mix Well done lads - and up the bees

if anybodys wondering why I gave the album 5 stars but some of the songs only got 3. i tell you I wouldn't even give my favourite album 5 on all tracks.
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on 3 September 2007
Stars of CCTV was brilliant a breath of fresh air amongst a glut of guitar bands. At the time I thought that Hard Fi and the Kaisers were the shining beacons visible way above the horde of monkey clones, they had their own sound, hurrah!

Once Upon a Time in the West is a fabulous follow up both lyrically and musically, these boys are moving along nicely. This album works on many levels; pop, rock, social comment. A bunch of very carefully crafted tunes here, no second difficult album for Hard Fi. They prove beyond doubt they are excellent musicians with staying power. Sign me up for the third album.
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on 5 September 2007
Ok so i loved loved loved, Stars Of CCTV, and played it to death, and for what seems like forever have been waiting for their second album. I love their style of music its right up my street. The new album is the same sound and quirky songs; just what i like. I feel a bit disappointed though, because the whole thing is only 37 mins long! It seems over in a flash, thats the only thing i quibble with. The songs are cool.
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on 21 September 2007
Whilst this album was never going to catch the dizzy heights its predecessor reached it's still a good follow up.
It's darker and more soulful than Stars of CCTV and a feeling of loneliness echoes throughout the album.
I was initially disappointed that `You and Me' failed to make the final cut on the album as this is one of hard-fi's best songs but was reduced to being the B side of Suburban Knights..
'Surburban Knights' kicks off the album and although clever lyrically it does begin to sound a little clichéd after a while as does the track 'Televison' but purists could argue this is what hard-fi do best - anthemic, terrace-chant style songs.
Highlights are 'Can't get along without you', 'watch me fall apart' and the superb last track `The King' However for me the stand out track is `help me please' Richard Archer's evocative cry for help.
Don't buy this album if you're expecting Stars Of CCTV Mark 2, OUATITW is a more polished, mature grown up sounding version of hard fi. Am already looking forward to the 3rd album
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on 29 August 2007
This album has yet to grow on me completely. The first 4 songs are great but somehow the quality seems to slip down from there on - or maybe it will just take some more listens for me to appreciate them. By the way, "The King" starts almost exactly like "The Drugs Don't Work"...
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on 16 September 2007
First things first, I would have given this 5 stars but my belief is that, nothing is ever perfect and all could be made better, but if we found this was it and their last then a definite 5 stars would be in order.
Once Upon a Time in the West is what most UK indie bands would love for their second album, what they have come to realise is that their seconds album is never as good or as big as their debut but Hard-Fi have taken what they learnt from Stars of CCTV and made this.
What an amazing achievement, with the variety of instruments and vocal differences... I would recommend without a doubt.
Catchy rhythms and brilliant lyrics, Once Upon A Time In The West is one of 2007's highlights.
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on 2 September 2007
The second album from hard fi continues the unique style that made their debut album 'Stars of CCTV' sell 1.2m copies, I've commented on my favourite tracks from the album. 'The King' is about a man returning to his home town trying to find his ex-girlfriend "got your photo and i wonder do you still own this number but in my heart i know you changed that number long ago, once i was the king". 'Television' is another strong track on the album with a catchy chorus "Television, new religion, everyone sing alleluia". This album has been put on the bands myspace myspace.com/hardfi , and the person who has commented that this album is chavy in their review clearly knows nothing about music.
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