Hard Fi - Manchester Academy 2 - 22.2.05
If the Dead 60s are keeping the spirit of Joe Strummer alive with their white boy scouse dub soundtrack, then Hard-Fi are flying a similar flag with their own unique take on white boy soul. It's probably to their advantage that they came from somewhere as non-descript as Staines, as all they had to play was old Northern Soul records. And of course they're far enough removed from the mecca of the Wigan Casino to be precious about Keeping The Faith
"Hard To Beat" is the hybrid of Motown and the choppy rhythms last heard in Britpop. It's not the snappy suits of Dexy's that these guys wear, it's the sort of casual chic that Damon Albarn sported around "Park Life". Hard-Fi's frontman Richard Archer manages to embrace the chirpy cockney mannerism of the aforementioned Albarn, with the swagger of a young Liam Gallagher.
"Gotta Reason" is the sort of song that will define their blend of Staines soul. Soul music had always been about classifying - Southern Soul, Northern Soul, Deep Soul - but this time it's a soul music defined by very different surroundings. There's no lost love, other woman or broken hearts. This is music made out of having no cash, a shit 9-5 job and having just 2 nights to get blitzed in cheap clubs before the daily grind starts again. The titles are fairly self explanatory, "Cash Machine", "Living For The Weekend", "Tied Up Too Tight". The latter and new single being the weakest of the lot, but even that wins us over with some mexicana charm.
It's early days yet, but Hard-Fi could be one of the most important bands to come out of Britain in years.
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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