giovedì 27 maggio 2010

A "Hi-Fi Serious"

Disco micidiale. Di quelli dove tutto fila via alla perfezione. Si sono caricati nei lavori precedenti, hanno mostrato più di una volta di avere le carte in regola ed ora eccolo qui il colpaccio. Va alla grande l'indie pop rock degli A, che tra rimandi al pop punk americano e uno sguardo ai Police (con gli steroidi!) piazzano melodie vincenti inserite in chitarre rumorose ma perennemente pronte a spingerti a cantare e a saltare. Ritornelli immediati, linee melodiche facili, un pò di (finta) cattiveria che non fa mai male...e il gioco è fatto! (2002 London)

Great pop-punk records are actually a fairly rare creature in the overall picture of alternative rock. Despite the high volume of releases, whole years go by without a significant or exciting album being made in the genre. That is why the blissfully sweet Hi-Fi Serious is such a wonderful surprise. Whereas in the past A always showed potential, on this record they took that step forward that so many of their contemporaries are afraid to take. And what a step forward it is; gorgeous hooks, excellent production, and anthemic choruses that border on hair metal at times all add up to an irresistible sound that should appeal to any fan of the genre. By cutting away the snotty Green Day worship that makes so many of these groups obnoxiously coy, the group can explore other genres without any concern over sounding too ironic or goofy. They have definitely moved in a more commercial direction on this record, adding elements like synthesizers and heavily processed backup vocals that might damage their credibility, but make their music just that much better. The booty-shaking title track may be the best pop song the group has ever crafted, moving from the tense and driving verses to a swaggering chorus with such ease that it's a wonder they never displayed this sort of songwriting talent before. The fantastic "Nothing" feels like it could burst apart at any moment, but instead it holds together with a chorus that burns its way into your brain and refuses to leave. "Took It Away" feels like it's breaking apart toward the middle, then it makes a dramatic turn into a breezy Southern California section that brings the song to the next level. "Starbucks" is almost too catchy to be likable, but they manage to turn the song into a cutesy-but-endearing pop nugget by the end. And "The Distance" is either a pleasantly unique punk-pop anthem or the best hair metal song written since Poison's "Ride the Wind," and that is really the only way to describe it. Any fan of this genre who isn't afraid of a little experimentation should find themselves highly rewarded by giving this a shot. In a genre that is hideously oversaturated, it is a genuine relief to hear albums like this. It reminds the listener of how good this genre has the potential to be when in the hands of musicians that aren't afraid to be poppy first and punk second. (Bradley Torreano - All Music Guide)

If you were unfamiliar with A's pre-'Hi-Fi Serious' CV (and there's quite a few of you) you'd be forgiven for concluding that Britain's answer to the US rock invasion were nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy. Not so.
We've only got ourselves to blame for largely ignoring them first and second time around ('How Ace Are Buildings' and 'Monkey Kong'). We exiled them to sunnier climes and who would blame them for staying away after being roundly snubbed at home despite a fervent if niche following. Third time lucky and you'd be a fool to ignore this early candidate for rock album of the year.
So what's changed? Rock is pretty popular if you hadn't noticed but there's more to it than that. Fundamentally A have toned down their buffoonery (to a degree) and produced their most honed and powerful album to date.
The supersonic paced, rocket-fuelled romp of 'Hi-Fi Serious' surely exceeds its EU quota of riffs, harmonies and melodies. They're also spoiling us with 12 potential singles that ricochet around your skull.
'Something's Going On', '6 O'clock', 'Took It Away' and the title track let rip with blow after blow. 'Starbucks' will surely do for A what 'Buck Rodgers' did for Feeder last year and 'Shut Yer Face' makes some hilarious genre comments while simultaneously cramming all your air guitar needs into one handy track. 'Took It Away' takes a sly dig at mediocrity while featuring some schizophrenic electronic effects. Even the slowie, 'The Springs', is bravely promoted rather than being anonymously buried.
'Hi-Fi Serious' is far more than a US rock pastiche or one-dimensional rock album. A have evolved into an English Blink 182 or The Police with a preference for power chords fronted by a raspy voiced hyperactive loon. More importantly though, A are an English rock band not afraid to take risks or their maintain self-belief. It's a gamble that's paid off.
A are about to explode on a global scale. And that includes their home country this time! (Chris Heath -

As Hi-Fi Serious so ably demonstrates, sometimes it's just a matter of waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with you. Round about the time of their second album Monkey Kong, A were pegged as perfunctory Brit-rock chancers, a poor substitute for their angst-heavy Stateside peers. Come their third album, though, A sound every bit the globe-straddling international rock band.
Marking out the crucial mid-point between the impassioned emo-pop of Jimmy Eat World and the dumb-assed gross-out punk splatter of Blink 182, Hi-Fi Serious is a cackling, cartoonish descent into fearlessly tuneful power-pop larkery. It's saturated in an obvious love for beach-bum Americana: "It's an endless summer/ It's the summer forever" breezes the bronzed power-punk of "Pacific Ocean Blue". And while the five are frighteningly eager to dally like playful puppies through all rock's cheesiest cliches--just check out guitarist Mark Chapman's Eddie Van Halen-style fretwork on "The Distance"--it's always performed with enough charm to win the day. Think the Brits can't do rock? Crank up Hi-Fi Serious and let A put a smile back on your face. (Louis Pattison -

- Nothing
- Something's Going On
- Six O'clock On A Tube Stop
- Going Down
- Took It Away
- Starbucks
- Springs
- Shut Yer Face
- Pacific Ocean Blue
- Distance
- Hi Fi Serious


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