In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I only liked it more and more as each of it 40 minutes of simple but effective rock kicked and punched its way through my headphones.”
The band; Hard Girls. The album; A Thousand Surfaces. My prior knowledge of who they are and what they do before listing; None.
A simple, driving riff that can be repeated ad nauseam is a great way to kick things off, and that’s exactly what Hard Girls deliver with The Quark. Even better, when the vocals arrive, they deliver that same kind of simple, driving attitude. It’s rock and roll at its most basic and most effective. Things get a little more indie and angular on Sign of the Dune, but the chorus betrays just as much stripped back rock at the song’s core, for one minute and 43 seconds of unrelenting cool.
Slowing things down, the tempo is the only thing reduced on Die Slow. There’s still just as much oomph and impact here, while not being quite as in your face as the opening quartet. Onto Plan and Flying Dream, and A Thousand Surfaces is delivering a real Japandoids vibe. These dudes know when they’re instruments and voices have done enough to get the job done, and they never layer anything superfluous crap on top to show how tricky they can be. Hard Girls are kind of the anti-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or anti-Radiohead.
When Hard Girls find the off switches on their distortion pedals for the extended intro and contemplation of Without a Sound, I found myself impatiently waiting for them to get back to the rockin’. It’s not that the song doesn’t prove them capable of writing something a little more nuanced and reflective, it’s just that the balls out nature of the first half of the record is so good, I just wanted more and more and more of that.
While so much of A Thousand Surfaces flirts with crossing the line into punk rock, On & On crashes over it at full speed. A lot of yelling, a lot guitar riffage that feels like it’s just staying in control, and a lot of overall awesome. And when it’s followed by the more deliberate, shoegazing of The Chord, both songs benefit from the opposite dynamics of each other.
The mostly instrumental Deep Gulch abandons vocals a minute or so in, before indulging in a loose jam for the remaining three. It’s the kind of thing that could have so easily become boring and laboured, but the Hard Girls passion that fuels so much of this record is just as present here, making every note feel earned and 100% necessary. Simple but effective might seem like faint praise, but I mean it as a real compliment when it comes to A Thousand Surfaces. I had a handle on the Hard Girls sound by the time the first chorus of the first song came around, and I only like it more and more as the next 40 minutes of simple but effective rock kicked and punched its way through my headphones.