Hard-Fi has just released a ‘Best of’. Yes, you heard me right, the English band has released a compilation of their best material sourced from just three studio albums. But this is a good thing. Hard-Fi is a band that is worthy of the benefits that this compilation will bring them. Firstly, because they experiment. They don’t just stick to the guitars-bass-drums formula of the typical indie rock band. They incorporate other instruments such as organs and trumpets. And ok, I do have a soft spot for any band that uses trumpets. But they also have an amazingly talented and charismatic lead singer in Richard Archer. A great example of Archer’s talent here is Better Do Better, where his voice ranges from whispering to falsetto to all out belting. And, of course, many of their songs are catchy as hell.
I’m going to spend a little time on my favourite two tracks from this compilation. The first is the opener, Cash Machine. It’s a true working class anthem but it is in no way generic. With, as mentioned above, the inclusion of an organ and keyboards and a very cool bass-line, plus a reference to an old folk song, the track has a very unique feel. My other favourite track is the rather sweet Can’t Get Along (Without You). The guitar on the offbeats creates a relaxed vibe and the horns complement the song beautifully without ever being overpowering. Then there are the chorusy bits where the band sings in unison, creating warm and fuzzy feelings for all. And the lyrics are simple and honest, for example: “so I/I picked fights with men twice my size, so I/I picked fights, they punched out my lights, and I/I took smack, so I could get high/I got hooked, and I nearly died.”
Some songs, such as Move On Now are a bit forgettable, which is unfortunate given this is supposed to be a best of, however I suppose this is excusable due to the relatively small body of work that the band is drawing from. And, to be fair it was Warner Music’s idea to release this compilation, not Hard-Fi’s, although the band did have a degree of creative control over the album.
Also included on here is the Hard To Beat – Axwell Mix, a remix of the band’s breakthrough single that was for a time quite popular in clubs. I can see why. The repetition of “Just want to touch ya” fits perfectly with club culture and it is also a very well put together remix, with Archer’s falsetto punctuating the track.