Release Date: Aug 22, 2011
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Naming an album Killer Sounds following a four-year break which has seen most of their indie pop contemporaries fall by the wayside, could be seen as asking for trouble, but luckily, Hard-Fi‘s third effort more than lives up to its rather ambitious title. The self-proclaimed "Stars of CCTV" may have been largely forgotten since 2007's under-performing Once Upon a Time in the West, but co-produced by Richard Archer with the likes of Stuart Price (the Killers) Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen), and Alan Moulder (Foo Fighters), its follow-up is a much more adventurous affair which should reignite their slightly faltering career. Their trademark rabble-rousing chants, spiky guitar hooks, and general swagger are still very much in evidence, but this time round, their '80s influences stray far beyond the post-punk of the Clash and the socially conscious ska of the Specials which defined their previous two chart-topping releases.
After heading up the class of 2005 but misfiring with their second album, Hard-Fi are having to renew their once massive fanbase. Thus, few bases are left untouched in an effort to produce a third offering packed with potential singles. Variously, they sound like Big Audio Dynamite (Good for Nothing), the Clash (Stay Alive), later New Order (Fire in the House, Killer Sounds), Kasabian, Take That, Plan B and Chase & Status.
The Staines four-piece went massive with their debut Stars of CCTV in 2005 but its follow-up, 2007's Once Upon a Time in the West, was not so well received critically. Their third album has less of a home-produced feel though offers the same mainstream mash-up of indie-pop and dance, the beats and synth lines slightly more souped up, no doubt due to the likes of Stuart Price (Les Rythmes Digitales etc) on desk duty. The hooks continue far beyond opener and lead single "Good for Nothing" and its follow-up "Fire in the House".
In 1949, Arthur Miller’s seminal play Death Of A Salesman called time on the popular cultural dominance of the male. For the first time, the Y chromosome was outed as having the propensity to be needy, uncertain and a bit pathetic. In 2011, we have ‘[b]Killer Sounds[/b]’ by [a]Hard-Fi[/a], in its own (far less seminal, we should add) way just as timely a treatise on the crisis in masculinity.It’s one of the most batshit strange records you’re ever likely to hear.
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.
An assured third set, but these invention-free sounds aren’t exactly killer. Tom Hocknell 2011 Hard-Fi have dawdled since 2007’s Once Upon a Time in the West, with its slated ‘No Cover Art’ sleeve overshadowing the fact it reached number one. But they return to stall the supposed demise of rock, showing that, despite Liam’s delusions, the state of the genre’s health does not rest on Beady Eye’s shoulders alone.