Hard-Fi are the kind of "landfill indie" band that we're all apparently supposed to mock. Quite why this is so I've never really understood, as they seem to me to be clearly unrelated to any of their British peers of the noughties. For a start there isn't the slightest element of nostalgia in their sound, which seems to have been ruthlessly excised of any sentimental cues or knowing quotations. Only the heavy dub of Lee Perry (from whom they took their name) seems to linger recognisably at the edges of their music.
Originally from Staines in Middlesex, what the band documents is the minutiae of contemporary working class life found in the particular milieu of mid-sized, light-industrial southern English towns - a world of industrial estates, replica football shirts, Sky TV, modded Peugeots, vertical drinking and the kind of unsteady work that intersperses periods of scrimping with periods of low-rent decadence: the Saturday night millionaire syndrome.
The dinosaur-vampire super-ego coterie of exhausted rock-crits charged Hard-Fi with two contradictory crimes: the first being the age-old canard of them being somehow inauthentic (there were endless attempts to prove that singer Richard Archer wasn't really working class), and the second that they were simultaneously too wedded to a narrow provincialism to be of any wider cultural significance. In many ways the band inconveniently documented a lumpenised proletarian culture that many metropolitan liberals wished wasn't there, a world in which the likes of News Corporation and Chelsea Football Club and Max Power and Carling lager constituted the staples of cultural life - England as it really is (was?), not as how their denigrators wistfully believed it should be.
As someone who has spent most of their life in a middle-sized southern English city, I have to say that Hard-Fi's curiously inorganic music does ring awfully true - you can almost smell the stale fags and lager-sodden carpets in their sound. But ultimately any authenticity they may possess is superceded by the fact that they write great songs, and rock them hard. Alas, as has been pointed out before on these blogs, there's nothing the tastemakers hate more than something that is just too easy to "get".