Hard-Fi Stars of CCTV

Hard-Fi Stars of CCTV
England has never been short on acts who can stir up a frenzied dance floor with a great pop song, but how often are these songs delivering anything more than just a trivial message of love, sex or getting drunk? That’s where Hard-Fi come in. From Staines, London (yes, the working class home of one Ali G), this foursome really don’t have too much in common with their peers, as far as lyrical content is concerned. To the untrained ear, they write anthems that are pleasantly accessible and easy to chant and dance along to, like Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs. However, singer/songwriter Richard Archer doesn’t want to be another hedonistic rock band, he wants to be in the Clash or the Jam. In his strive to achieve that, Archer camouflages subjects like car bombings in Baghdad ("Middle Eastern Holiday”), senseless violence ("Unnecessary Trouble”) and public security, on the infrequently soft but complementary title track. It doesn’t hurt that he also throws in some fun here and there, like with the catchy "Hard to Beat,” a throwback to disco beats and Ibiza anthems, or the self-explanatory "Living for the Weekend.” Stars of CCTV may be essentially English in its vocabulary, but if you listen closely you can hear a lot of your problems in Archer’s voice, and he’s a pro at pointing out our frustrations and making us dance along to them.

There’s a real serious edge to the lyrics that’s wrapped in great pop songs. What brought on this tone? Archer: I was listening to the radio one day and not one of those songs connected with me or said anything about my life. It wasn’t until Morrissey came on that it made me think: "Is it down to the fact that it has to be some guy who’s knocking on 50 who can say something that matters to me?” I figure most people out there are just like me: falling in love, have no money, stuck in a job they can’t escape. And then I try to write great songs that people can dance to, which wasn’t the hip thing at the time, but you’ve got to do your own thing and hope that people get it.

What made you record in an abandoned taxi office? There are no rehearsal rooms or recording studios or live venues in Staines and that was the cheapest place we could find. Everything we did for this album (artwork, videos, recording), we did with no money. Sometimes your limitations make you more creative; you use what’s around you and that’s what we did — we made this album that no one else sounded like. (Atlantic)