Today's album is yet another gem from that alphabetically ambitious British group A. Hi-Fi Serious is the 3rd album from A. If I had to pick a favorite A album (Let me just tell you how moronic I sound in my head right now. I feel like Charlie Bucket's math teacher. You can't call yourselves "A"! There has to be more to it than that! Let's pretend your name is A Flock of She-Goats or A Major Florist or something) this would be it. Of course that isn't saying a tonne. I have a better chance of being elected Space Pope than I do of running across a copy of How Ace Are Buildings and Monkey Kong, as we have already discussed, was good but not great.
Hi-Fi Serious, though better than Monkey Kong in practically every way, is still in the good but not great category itself. I would put it on the high end of good (of course this is a sliding scale and I reserve the right to insert levels past great such as "awesome" and "totally gnarly" when I need terms for Weezer albums and other such nectar of the gods) I have listened to the album in its entirety twice since I reviewed Monkey Kong and although it has its moments, Hi-Fi Serious is merely good. If I weren't doing this alphabetically, Hi-Fi Serious would not have been one of the first two albums I reviewed.
All that being said, let's talk positively about this album for a minute. From the opening blasts of "Nothing" to the closing strums and strings of "Champions of Endings" one thing is apparent above all else: these songs are better and more catchy than those on Monkey Kong. "Nothing" and "Starbucks" are clearly the best songs on the album, but every song on Hi-Fi Serious brings something to the table. I listened to the entire album without pondering better ways to spend my time. I know I'm speaking almost entirely in backhanded compliments, but I'm just trying to say that I enjoyed the album without having it sneak into my top albums of all-time list (a list I have never and probably will never compile in any sort of concrete form).
The only real gripes I have against Hi-Fi Serious are that the lyrics tend to be a bit simplistic and a few of the songs seem a bit longer than they need to be. I don't know why I should ever criticize anyone for simplistic lyrics given my history of bad poetry (in my defense I had a short-lived beatnik phase in high school and even I could tell I had no talent for verse) but somehow the lyrics on this album don't quite cut it for me. Take a look at the chorus of the hit single "Nothing": "Gimme some love/ gimme some skin/ if we aint got that then we ain't got much and we ain't got nothin'/ nothin'" Let me state for the record that "Nothing" has gotten me really pumped almost every single time I've ever listened to it, but if I bend even a slight critical ear to the lyrics the whole thing seems pretty silly.
I really have to wonder why I strain at the gnats A is throwing at me while allowing entire camels to pass unnoticed (like I do for my beloved Neil Diamond) but this blog isn't about me throwing out accurate measurements of how good or bad an album or a song is. It's about me listening to all my music and writing some semi-coherent rant about every bit of it. I can't lose sight of the dream this early in the game by questioning my own taste. So let's call a spade a spade and say that Hi-Fi Serious is a decent enough album for people who expect their music to be loud, crunchy and not too cerebral.
Go here to stream the album at lastfm.