The Hardpack pack is a long-awaited release. According to the band themselves, the recording and mastering took two years under the guidance of alternative rock producer Davy Chan of LMF/Anodize fame. In the two years, they appeared on TV and in a few large stage shows, and saw lead vocals Phat leave the band. The CD certainly demonstrated engineering prowess in action; songs are polished. Of Hardpack’s rather well-known set of songs, six were selected, in exact match to the title of the CD, the most popular ones to the fans. One of the songs, “自討沒趣” has previously been published in the form of a MV, and was included in Paul Wong’s “Let’s Fight” collection. Almost all songs except “Wake Up” were available initially as free demo download on their web site. Overall, it’s a surefire collection for rewarding their fans.
With a strong marketing machine, professional production, plentiful of oi-oi’s, it’s becoming clear that Hardpack is Hong Kong’s most successful pop-punk group. By now, Hardpack is most well-known for their association with AliveNotDead.com, meaning they really exclusively work with AliveNotDead and appear rarely in so-called band shows. It’s quite an unnecessary thing to say as, I suppose, if AliveNotDead were the manager, what else? In fact, Hardpack also sound like a band with a manager. The less commercial and genuine punk songs have been totally discarded. And they are even working with mainstream artists like Eason Chan.
It’s quite a thing to see a high energy punk band growing into the tender age of 30. At the CD launch party, KK, guitarist/vocal, explained that the song “24”, the only English song on the CD, with the line “twenty, twenty-four, don’t wanna be thirty-four”, is now almost an irony as a member or two of the band are approaching that age. The drop of the punk stance, and the lack of output in the past two years seem to show the sign of age.
But for four young guys in their late twenties, playing in a band, not producing one single new song seems absolutely amazing. Adding to that, for an high-profile CD launch party, there has not been really that much follow-up promotion of the CD. Thinking back two years, the band having selected six fine songs to commit to recording, it’s difficult to think they haven’t changed in two years. At least I have not seen any change when they played live or on this release. And it only makes me cherish the older genuine punk numbers that were never committed to CD quality. I have to admit getting the CD was an exciting moment, but the anti-climax makes me want to talk to the band, and ask them sincerely whether creativity should come back one day, when we will receive the first, second or third releases to finally compile a Greatest Hits CD.
Reviewed by Bun Ng