In the early days of the 21st century nu-metal had become the pre-eminent force in rock music. Dominated by American bands it was typified by a post-Grunge angst-filled outlook. The stars of the genre were seemingly competing over who had the most traumatic childhood. If any band was the antithesis of this it was A, a group of fun loving pop-punks whose previous two albums had been filled with huge choruses sung with big grins on their faces and their tongues firmly in their cheeks.
Strange then that in 2002 they would suddenly find themselves being mentioned in the mainstream press in the same breath as the likes of Linkin Park and Papa Roach.
It was all down to the song Nothing, the teaser to forthcoming album Hi-Fi Serious. Built around a crunching riff, some background scratching and an infectious shouted chorus, taken in isolation it’s easy to see why the nu-metal comparisons were made. And in the U.K., at least, its commercial success trumped anything their more illustrious American contemporaries achieved, peaking at 9 in the singles chart. It was as impressive as it was unexpected.
A had garnered a decent reputation with their energetic live shows and enjoyable singalong albums but even in the microcosm of the BritRock scene they were hardly, if you’ll excuse the pun, A-listers. Nothing changed that. But for long term fans of the band there was a worry that this marked the end of the bands trademark joviality. The album title, Hi-Fi Serious did little to assuage these fears. In the end the worries were unfounded, follow up single Starbucks returned the feelgood vibes and while the album maintained the glossy production values of Nothing, it enhanced the band’s existing sound rather than reinventing it for the Limp Bizkit generation. Maybe because of this Nothing was something of a false dawn for A, Starbucks did reasonably well but they were unable to plunder any more hits from the album and by the time they released follow up album Teen Dance Ordinance in 2005 both punk-pop and nu-metal were on the wane and A never managed to build on the success they’d achieved. But for that brief moment in time A had made the grade.