Since 2004, Hard-Fi have achieved some incredible feats. Frontman, Richard Archer, describes how as a band, ‘We met and played with our musical heroes, played some incredible shows, saw the world.’ With three top ten albums, two of which seizing the number one spot, becoming the most played band on Radio One in 2006, and being the only band ever to sell out five consecutive nights at the Brixton Academy, Hard-Fi have certainly earned the right to celebrate their ten year anniversary. To mark the occasion, Hard-Fi have released a “best of” album, compiling choice tracks from their career so far: number one hits, fan favourites and a brand new song as well.
The album opens, rather appropriately with the band’s breakthrough single, ‘Cash Machine’; still just as catchy as it was at its time of release. The pace doesn’t let up, thanks to a run through of the greatest songs from debut album, Stars of CCTV. The band are famed for their raw sounding guitars, and social commentary, and these tracks from Stars of CCTV, showcase the bands individuality at its finest. This is, however, unsurprising, considering the tracks where recorded in a rented cab office. Arguably containing their greatest songs of all, it is easy to see that the debut has sold enough copies to go double platinum, thanks to the likes of ‘Tied up too tight’, ‘Hard to Beat’, ‘Living for the Weekend’. It is a shame however, to see the omission of the moving and anthemic ‘Feltham is Singing Out’ from this “best of” collection.
Following Hard-Fi’s releases in a rough chronological order, ‘Suburban Nights’, kicks off the selection from their second studio album, Once Upon A Time In The West. This is followed by ‘Can’t Get Along (Without You)’ a rousing soul-tinged track that explores the sounds that singer, Archer, claims to have been influential in inspiring him and his bandmates. ‘Fist Full of Dollars” amped up mix of ‘I Shall Overcome’ is well chosen, providing an effectively tweaked, extended version of the funk infused original. The feel good, ‘Good for Nothing’ and nostalgic ‘Fire in the House’, are standouts among the tracks from third album, Killer Sounds.
Taking on the responsibility of constructing the compilation themselves, having been offered the opportunity by Warner Music Co, it is pleasing to see the additional effort Hard-Fi have put into what could have otherwise been a bland and un-involved cash-in release. The welcome touch of fan service is evident from the inclusion of Axwell’s remix of ‘Hard to Beat’ and Hard-Fi’s most popular b-side, as voted for by fans, ‘You and Me’, as well as the album artwork that instantly recalls Stars of CCTV. As if this wasn’t enough, the album features a brand new track, ‘Move Over’. A smooth and restrained effort, the track shows off Archer’s ability to deliver biting social commentary with style and will likely spark excitement for the bands upcoming fourth studio album, currently in the works.
Acting as a retrospect, it is a shame to see that despite the quality of Hard-Fi’s most recent releases, Best of 2004-2014, illustrates how the energy and distinctiveness of their debut can overshadow their most latest work. That said, with a grand total of nineteen tracks, the album is packed with top quality songs, with diverse arrangement and intelligent lyrics that can be enjoyed by fans new and old. Avid Hard-Fi fans will be satisfied as well as a deluxe two disc edition is also available, containing hard to find b-sides, remixes and alternate versions of tracks. Best of 2004-2014, is a brilliant means for those who have enjoyed Hard-Fi’s past singles to discover more of the bands’s greatest songs, and is ultimately a testament to their success over this past decade.
Best of 2004-2014 is available on the 27th January on Warner Music Co.