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Hard-Fi - Once Apon a Time in the West

2007-10-04 09:30
Sensitive but flawed: that’s always been the personality guiding Hard-Fi’s sing-along songs about the fight for meaning and dignity in life. It’s a battle they mainly seem to be losing. And if you’ve ever spent time in London you’ll probably understand why.

Their first album - the trendy but occasionally daring Stars of CCTV (2006) – was accused of being too varied in style and tone. Of course, this is precisely what made it great. Hardly anyone cares about albums anymore, only about songs.
This second album isn’t horribly bad, but it is horribly disappointing. It sounds like a whole lot of B-Sides from the singles-packed Stars of CCTV. The attractive, laddish hard-luck narrative of “Cash Machine” has been replaced by the lackluster “Suburban Knights”. There’s no ballad as desolate and evocative as “Move On Now” – an essential in any weepy iPod playlist. The 90s-retro musical ingredients seem stale and the results are a sullen echo of an amazing first set.

Despite the occasional clever treatment of an otherwise ordinary tune, Hard-Fi sound very tired, and very nearly exhausted. Suddenly, something’s gone missing.

- Jean Barker

If ever there was a “difficult second album”, this is it. Like sulky children making some kind of smart comment, the Hard-Fi hasn’t bothered to offer fans cover art or new photos. Or decent songs.

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