Sound — 9
Just short of four years since the release of "Once Upon A Time In The West", Hard-Fi return with their long awaited third LP, "Killer Sounds". Often misplaced under the heading of "indie rock", here the evidence is more convincing than ever that the Staines band offer a sound substantially vaster than that. The core sound remains the same, frontman Richard Archer's varying vocal range backed by consistantly groovy and soulful basslines and beats, supplemented by jabbing, Clash-esque guitar sounds. The switch in dynamic from the bands last effort, frequently orchestral and string swept in sound, switches to a setup leaning on more dancefloor and poppier flavoured synths, the emotive edge retained in the delivery of the vocals, melodically as soulful as always, and allowed to breath at the right moments within a record that from the off moves at a fast pace. "Good For Nothing" fires the record out of the traps, the well documented inspiration of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" present but not taking away too much from the songs own undeniably catchy refrain and anthemic nature. It stands out on the album as the most hard-hitting moment, in guitar level and vocally. Subsequent tracks "Fire In The House", "Give It Up" and "Bring It On" present the possibly the biggest sounding chorus sections the band have created to date and feature a more emotive subtlely with progressive breakdowns and soaring background vocals. From here the band really begin to expand the sound, be it the eastern styled guitaring weaving its way through "Feels Good", unashamed pop of "Love Song" or sleazy club nature to "Sweat", the tempo remains relentless and the mix varied right through. The album closer and title track offers the first moment where the record draws breath and much like the previous record finales from Hard-Fi acoustic guitar is at the forefront and the vibe is downbeat yet uplifting all in one. Musically the inclusion of another one or two moments like this, steadier in pace, perhaps more minimal and intimate may add an extra level for fans seeking more contingency from the bands debut and follow up. Otherwise its a record full of variety and energy, exciting and upbeat, well worth the long wait.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically the band have always been known for delivering realistic snapshots of everyday suburban hopes and struggles, and whilst here the upbeat spirit remains, the everyday common nature of their words is traded in for a more general level of confidence and positivity, best expressed on "Give It Up", "Bring It On" and "Stay Alive". Elsewhere love and intimacy comes to the forefront more prominently than previously on "Fire In The House", "Sweat" and "Love Song". "Killer Sounds" provides the most unique moment lyrically, the basic message being to live life to the full but shrouded in an almost cryptic and intriguing series of angles.
Overall Impression — 9
If "Once Upon A Time In The West" was the band performing their heart out, "Killer Sounds" is the band, confident and jubilant, performing at the subsequent after show party. Fans of the bands first two records may be detracted by the lack of more intimate moments and or lyrical relevance, but those willing to let the band let their hair down and experiment shouldn't be disappointed.