Changing a genre isn’t an easy task for a band to pull off successfully, especially for one as deeply established as Hundredth. With three previous albums spanning all the way back to 2010, the once melodic hardcore act from Myrtle Beach have switched gears into a shoegaze alt rock/post hardcore feel with their newest release, Rare. Though many long time fans are crying foul -which is an inevitable side effect of drastic musical change – most have embraced and supported their decision. Never having paid too much attention to Hundredth as a hardcore act, I am ecstatic for this new direction. Rare is an album well worth the risk it took to create it, and an organic progression towards new horizons for Hundredth.
It isn’t long into the first track, “Vertigo”, before you get a sense of their new direction. Chadwick Johnson’s melodic voice is superb and consistent throughout the entire album; with mellow and subdued vocals (similar to Nothing or recent Turnover) that are part of the music, and not just on top of it. The backing vocals from the other band members are also worth mentioning, as they add an ethereal echo to much of the album. Also contributing strongly to the vibe are Andrew Minervini’s driving bass lines and the crisp and catchy lead guitars from original returning guitarist, Alex Blackwell. Check out the song “Shy Vein” for perhaps the strongest shoegaze influence on the album.
As previously mentioned, Rare also leans heavily on post-hardcore and alt rock elements, which come in part from Chadwick Johnson’s heavy rhythm guitar sections and the immaculately intense drumming by Lee Hutchison – whose talented percussive track remains an active element of the music from beginning to end, without ever being overbearing. Riffs in songs like “Down” and “Neurotic” could easily be found on a post 2006 Saosin album, while the aggressive punk influence of “Disarray” immediately makes me think of Alexisonfire‘s later work. I was also pleasantly surprised by the song “White Squall,” which if somebody had told me was a new HRVRD song, I would easily believe them. All of these emotional rock elements do help to somewhat tether their new sound to the old. Just because Rare is a “softer” style of music does not mean that it is any softer than their older works. The members of Hundredth are playing emotional, punchy, and driving rock that is nearly impossible not to tap your feet to.
Initially, I felt that I would quickly tire of the album. However, that feeling could not be further from reality. The album grows on me more and more with each listen. Every band member touts their versatility as musicians, and delivers equally essential aspects to all songs on the album. It is simultaneously mellow and brimming with energy. Dark, yet dreamy. Whether you’re driving, studying, hanging out with friends, or introspectively contemplating the finer points of life, this release will suit almost any mood. With Rare, Hundredth stayed true to themselves as individuals, breaking free of a sound that no longer satisfied them and creating a heartfelt collection of twelve nearly flawless tracks. Rare will easily find a home on my list for top albums of 2017.
Notable Tracks: “Neurotic”; “White Squall”; “Down”; “Shy Vein”; “Youth”
FFO: Nothing, (new) Turnover, Saosin, Alexisonfire