If only the Surrey based group’s third effort 'Killer Sounds' lived up to its overly confident title. Best remembered for 2005’s energetic hit ‘Hard To Beat’, Hard-Fi have spent the past three years hidden away producing their latest slice of upbeat dance punk fusion.
Opener 'Good For Nothing’ sets the tone for the album, borrowed madchester beats and horn sections merged with lads night out rock and a strange empty feeling being left in the audience.
Single ‘Fire in the House’ is a step up, proving one of the albums' few highlights, the production, while nothing to write home about, the strongest and most cohesive of the eleven tracks. A Johnny Marr’esque guitar break down, backing singers and layers of synth paint an unoriginal but effective picture, a true hands-in-the-air crowd pleaser.
Some great riffing materializes on ‘Feels Good’ but simultaneously some of the most repetitive and painful lyrics. There are blindingly clear Kasabian/Muse sized stadium ambitions apparent here, ‘Sweat’s edgy disco synths sounding like bastardized versions of the latter bands, with none of the experimental song writing that provided those with success. Sadly we’ve all heard it before over the past few years, and executed a lot better. Hard-Fi have jumped on ship eighteen months too late.
‘Stay Alive’ is too forgettable to make a lasting impact, a building guitar based dancer with wannabe anthem aspirations, the like of which every band on the festival circuit seemingly has in their repertoire. It is not that ‘Killer Sounds’ is a bad record, it’s just that it’s not a particularly good one either, a sprightly forty minutes that never fulfils it’s own aims.
Richard Archer’s lyrics never matching the scale or grandeur of the music; there’s frontman swagger in his vocals though never a moment were he truly sounds like he believes what he is singing. 'Killer Sounds' finishing title-track is the closest the group get to hitting the mark, an acoustic guitar and piano dragged out to convey a more sobering mood.
With the song containing an actual narrative and some nice harmonies providing a smooth outro the band manage to save a little face in the last moments. Evolution is a good thing, unfortunately for Hard-Fi it’s back to the drawing board.