Album Reviews: Hard Times Are in Fashion by KoufaxHard times are indeed coming in abundance, but what’s really in fashion these days are retro-looking indie rock bands that can make the hipsters dance. Listeners shouldn’t hold the overt trendiness of Koufax’s piano-backed pop-rock against them -- not too much, at least -- because the Detroit band isn’t just a Johnny-Come-Lately; they’ve been peddling their wares since the turn of the century, and the band’s new rhythm section has its roots in The Get-Up Kids. Koufax figure to ensnare a lot of listeners who are fleeing Hot Hot Heat’s overexposure and their lukewarm latest, Elevator.
Hard Times announces itself immediately, bringing good cheer upon first listen and promising nothing beyond good cheer to reward the tenth or hundredth listen. The strange result is an album that’s plenty satisfying in the short-term, but feels like it could be forgotten on the shelf by next year. Musically, there are hooks and singalongs and big crescendos aplenty, aided throughout by some snappy tinkling-of-the-keys. There’s not, however, a giant, mainstream-converting single like “Bandages” or “Take Me Out,” which is unfortunate for an album that’s clearly more party music than headphones music.
To be fair, Koufax do aspire to differentiate themselves by injecting some social commentary into their dance sessions, a la Bloc Party, rather than aping the ironic inanities of Franz Ferdinand or the deliberately dorky wordplay of Hot Hot Heat. The insistent opener “Why Bother At All,” for instance, sneers at the apathetic portions of the populace, while “A Sad Man’s Face” and the amusing “Colour Us Canadian” grapple with the changing perception of America. On a likeable but otherwise predictable album, this consciousness lends a welcomed bite. - Adam McKibbin, The Red Alert
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