Stars of CCTV
Necessary / Atlantic
f I mention the working-class London indie scene, most people will think of the Libertines and the Others and if you have any taste at all you will dismiss Hard-Fi without even hearing them. However, Hard-Fi have something which those two bands lack: a great album. I've never listened to a whole Libertines album, so perhaps they are amazing, but from the singles I think it's pretty unlikely. Hard-Fi, on the other hand, have released three strong singles and the album is mostly of the same standard.
Hard-Fi's biggest hit so far is "Hard To Beat" which recently entered the top 5 of the UK Singles Chart. It’s unique enough that it simultaneously stands out and fits in on the radio. It's cool, but poppy enough to be accessible for anyone, and therefore the perfect breakthrough song for a band like Hard-Fi.
The themes of London and working class life are unmissable throughout Stars Of CCTV. The first track and debut single, "Cash Machine," tells the story of a typical London lad who is so broke he leaves town when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. With a re-release based on their new-found popularity, this one might be able to notch them their first number one.
The portrayal of London in Hard-Fi's songs is not always negative, though. The second single—the one that made me a fan—"Tied Up Too Tight," shows their love of the bright lights and freedom of the city at night. "Living For The Weekend" has a similar theme and, as the rumoured fourth single, it should be a huge party song for indie fans this year.
Although many of the unreleased tracks sound remarkably similar to the singles (the verses of "Feltham Is Singing Out" sound remarkably similar to that of "Hard To Beat"), they do cover a range of styles within their genre. Songs such as "Middle Eastern Holiday" and "Gotta Reason" show the band's rockier side, while "Move On Now" is a very lovely piano ballad, "Living For The Weekend" could almost be dance music, and I have to mention the strangely '90s-esque "Better Do Better" for its massive anthemic chorus.
To be honest, I don’t see Stars of CCTV as an album I will have on repeat for the rest of the year, but considering my dislike of so many seemingly similar bands, they've done very well to impress me as much as they have. For fans of indie-rock with a poppy slant, Stars of CCTV is an absolute necessity.
Reviewed by: Jessica Popper
Reviewed on: 2005-07-14