Album Review: Hard-Fi: Once Upon A Time In The West

By on Wednesday, 10th October 2007 at 2:35 am

This review was originally published in Southern Oregon’s Siskiyou Newspaper.

Hard-Fi: Once Upon A Time In The WestBack with their sophomore effort, Hard-fi are one of the current crop of British indie pop exports who aren’t afraid to tell the truth. Following in the tracks of Maximo Park, Stereophonics and Kasabian, they have crafted an album that is full of pop-hooks, well thought out tales of suburban UK life that combine to make a stronger album than their debut, Stars of CCTV.

The band hails from Staines, and their songs reflect on the darkness of this place, condensing them into radio-friendly 3 minute songs. Garnering plenty of press attention by their decision to have no album cover, instead a simple front with the simple words “No Cover Art Available”

Opening with lead single “Suburban Knights“, lead vocalist Rich Archer makes it immediately clear that this will be a much more politicised album – “A global terror they say, we are at war, but I ain’t got time for that ‘cos these bills keep dropping through my door” he comments.

Television” sees Rich sneering like he was the last punk standing. ‘Politicians don’t wanna listen/ They only wanna make money out of you …‘ he says with all the ferocity of The Clash back in the day. One of many of the great sing-alongs on the album, its sure to be a big hit next summer as the band makes its way around the European festival circuit.

The album slows down for a brief respite as Archer pays respect to his late mother on the despairing “Help Me Please“. Whilst it’s a distinctly different sound compared to the majority of the album, it’s also one of the most memorable.

Many of the tracks have a new-found polished sound, with “Watch Me Fall Apart” having the backing of a full orchestra. This is in stark contrast to their debut, which was recorded for the equivalent of just $800, in bedrooms, bars, and in their producer’s BMW. This bargain basement production is done away with for “Once Upon A Time in The West“, producing one of the more polished albums of the year, which will upset some of their early fans who liked the stripped back sounds.

Closing off with string-laden “The King“, Hard-fi reflect on what their new found fame and sacrifices they’ve had to make for it. A fine closer that shows off their new album – unafraid to make bold statements, show raw emotion, and try new sounds.

Hard-Fi’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” is available now on Atlantic Records.

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