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.
Hi-Fi Serious Review
by Bradley Torreano