Hard-Fi frontman Richard Archer raises his fist as his aching vocals moan, "Going on my Middle Eastern holiday/ Give me a gun, I hope I see my mum again" on the feverish war-torn anthem "Middle Eastern Holiday." The English foursome cleverly examines issues of war and working-class culture on its debut album, Stars of CCTV. Could this be the new millennium's Clash? While that remains to be seen, Archer's band delivers an angst-ridden, danceable sound that's a bit more direct than that of U.K. counterparts Franz Ferdinand, the Kaiser Chiefs, and Maximo Park.
Don't be put off by the British press' breathless hyperbole. Sure, New Musical Express hailed Stars of CCTV as "the album of the year," but Hard-Fi definitely is everything it's cracked up to be: brash, boisterous, and honest. Their bandmates' working-class background leaves no room for ego. Their live show is pure energy, with chunky guitar riffs, swarthy synth beats, and hooky choruses. "Living for the Weekend" will make you a believer.