More The Specials than Ali G, Staines quartet Hard Fi prefer to reflect on life in suburbia with its council flats, sprawling claustrophobia and declaration of poverty.
With an ensemble of dole queue diehards, ex hi-fi shop assistants and Rent-o-kill employees, Hard Fi’s debut album is all the more remarkable when you consider its £300 shoestring budget and lack of extensive and indeed expensive technology.
Employing a soundscape that is somewhat depressing lyrically ‘Stars of CCTV nevertheless remains interesting and upbeat in its entirety; ‘Cash Machine’ an ode to a lack of money, swaggers insanely whilst broaching a traditionally awkward and mood lowering subject. Bringing into play the 70’s Two tone and Ska influences of The Beat and The Specials with the evolving modern synthesised beats of today and the Rhythm and Blues favoured by the likes of Nine Below Zero, Hard Fi paint a graphic musical collage of the hard life through rose tinted spectacles. The reggae strains of ‘Gotta Reason’ or the catchy ‘Hard Beat’-a close cousin of ‘Cash Machine’-possess enough fluidity to suggest that although ‘Stars of CCTV’ has a lack of song distinction, it possesses enough honesty to relegate the sycophantic purveyors of the genre -The Ordinary Boys please take note-into the position of also-rans.