Hundred Reasons – ‘GLORIOUS SUNSET’

By Ian Kenworthy

Hundred Reasons dissolved. They didn’t burn out, they faded away. Back in 2007 the arrival of downloads was turning the music world into a very different place. Upheaval at their record label forced ‘Sharp The Word, Quick The Action’ into existence and afterward they drifted apart. Sure, they reunited on the anniversary of their debut ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ but that was a celebration, not a rebirth. Having closed their final album with the song ‘Out Of Time’ their career had a perfect ending, and so a new album was never an option, but with the twentieth anniversary tour looming things changed. With ‘Glorious Sunset’ they’re daring to challenge that ending; so strap yourself in again.

After fifteen years everything has shifted. Hundred Reasons existed in the same space as At The Drive-In, Refused and Hell Is For Heroes. They helped define post-hardcore, a genre that has since evolved into something else entirely, and so have they. Time has mellowed them into a rock band and despite being a product of that space they’re not trying to fit into it. On previous records reviewers would claim they were ‘trying to recapture the magic of their debut’ but that’s not the case here. They understand you don’t need to kick and scream to make a song powerful, and know what makes them special, so obviously there’s nostalgia at play. But it’s not “remember what we were,” it’s “look what we have become,” and that is so much more satisfying.

Stripped to a four-piece the line-up now consists of lead vocalist Colin Doran, drummer Andy Bews, bassist Andy Gilmour and guitarist Larry Hibbits – who also produces – but this is a democracy. Everybody’s role is vital and, because each song carefully blends together their counterpoints and interactions, it means all ten are rich, dynamic and feel individual. A great example being ‘New Glasses’ which has that modern rocky sound but uses interplay between Doran and Hibbits’ vocals to acknowledge their heritage. By contrast ‘Right There With You’ has an oppressive atmosphere and feels like a sound they haven’t explored before. It’s unashamed and doesn’t falter.

Last year Doran returned to music with They Fell From The Sky, a band very much in the vein of Hundred Reasons’ original style. Their songs played on his ability to yell, favoured his harsher impulses and showcased his voice at its most forceful. The songs here are very different. His distinct singing voice never really sounded like this, still powerful but fragile. If you’re expecting yelling you’ll be disappointed and ‘Right There With You’ features his only directly aggressive growl. Though this is much more powerful, basically he doesn’t need to yell; he’s too busy breaking your heart.

Doran’s lyrics have a distinctive feel and hide intimacy behind carefully chosen words. His personality and even his sense of grief come across without feeling obvious or exclusionary. This is important as there are songs explicitly about his son and losing his mum to cancer and while ‘Wave Form’ is nominally a song about leaving, it’s not difficult to read as being about the band going on hiatus and then reforming. However, the throughline is his use of tone which is easy to relate to. You can hear it on the understated refrain during ‘Insultiment’ where he carefully shifts the repetition of “Don’t put the blame on all of us” to give it more depth and impact. Don’t worry though, it’s not all downbeat with ‘The Old School Way’ and the bubbly ‘Done’ adding levity and helping round out the album’s overall feel.

Hibbit is an experienced producer and his work here its layered without being cluttered and sounds fabulous. It really helps the music shine. There’s a richness and depth that allows the different instruments to drive and shimmer while giving the vocals plenty of space. Notably on ‘It Suits You’ the lead guitar and bass lines complement the heavier riffing without ever being crushed by it. While the sound can feel quite stripped back, it certainly isn’t bare. ‘Insultiment’ and ‘Right There With You’ use sinister keyboards and effects-laden guitars to create atmospheric interludes to enhance their overall feel, while providing a contrast to the simple piano and string arrangement that turn ‘Replicate’ into a gentle lullaby.

Curiously ‘So, So Soon’ recalls their big single ‘Silver’ in that everything works together like the parts of a clock. It’s an easy, often beautiful track and yet it features an F-bomb that feels a little uncomfortable, like it doesn’t quite belong. It’s a moment of ugliness in a record that is quite the opposite, but perhaps that’s the point.

Finally, with ‘Wave Form’ they acknowledge the end of another chapter, glad they reunited and proving once again they know how to close a record. That’s important, because the album is built on the understanding that everything is finite and that something special is worth capturing.

“Time was never on your side,” Doran sings on the opening track, but by waiting until they truly had something that needs to be said Hundred Reasons have made an important and essential record. Sure it’s not going to have the cultural impact of their debut, but much older, wiser and still with something to say, ‘Glorious Sunset’ is a beautiful comeback.


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