ALBUM REVIEW: Hundredth – Somewhere Nowhere

Release Date: October 9th 2020
Label: Unsigned
Website: www.hundredthworldwide.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hundredth
Twitter: www.twitter.com/hundredth

Rating:

Shifting away from melodic hardcore/metalcore in favour of a more dream pop/post-punk direction, Hundredth redefined themselves with 2017’s exceptional ‘Rare’.

Three years on and proceeding without label backing, ‘Somewhere Nowhere’ isn’t merely a doubling down on the shoegazing of its predecessor, it’s an all-out synth-pop album. The ‘Ultrarare’ EP that dropped in 2018 showcased synth-heavy re-imaginings of material from their previous effort, while these weren’t merely signs of experimentation, but indicators.

Regrouping with Sam Pura at his Panda Studios, it’s abundantly clear through the near-unintelligible lyrics, heavy reliance on top of the line Roland and Moog synthesizers, and the sheer new wave neon fluidity of it all that Hundredth have now truly discovered the band that they were always destined to become.

If ‘Rare’ was pushing the boat out into new waters, this is the abandonment of full submersion. Steeped in glistening, intersecting synth lines, reverb-drenched, echoing guitar and bass fuzz transported from another era, the material glows with a lush, authentic hue. While lead single ‘Bottle It Up’ grooves and jolts with direct precision, it’s merely a dreamscape introduction, illuminating the vibrant, dynamic colours that lay ahead.

The minimal ‘Silver’ is a piece of synth-pop heaven, akin to The 1975‘s more recent, electronica-tinged output if it were used to score Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Drive soundtrack. While cuts like ‘Iridescent’ and ‘Cauterize’ hearken back to the more guitar-centric dream-pop found on their preceding album, there’s less smog, haze and grit; the tracks are able to gleam with the dreamy clarity of Echo & The Bunnymen but repurposed for the emo generation.

From what now seem like such humble, unlikely beginnings, Chadwick Johnson has come leaps and bounds from a melodic hardcore frontman to the guitar/synth playing, ethereal vocalist and songwriter whose confidence still radiates splendidly amidst downpours of delay and reverb. The eccentric, electro beauty of ‘Slack’ and gentle pulse of ‘Why’ are some of the most heartfelt, engaging, and audibly pleasing pieces of pop music that have dropped this year.

Somewhere along the line, the tattoo-sporting hardcore kids became exhausted with breakdowns and figured that they’d take a stab at revitalising past influential genres in an attempt to craft better, more timely pop music for the current generation. Where, when, and how this phenomenon actually began is surely open for discussion, but ‘Somewhere Nowhere’ should serve as a big, bold, and beautiful key example.