HUNDREDTH – Somewhere Nowhere
Released: October 9, 2020
Chadwick Johnson| vocals/rhythm guitar
Alex Blackwell | guitar/keyboards
Andrew Minervini | bass
We all know the all too common and just plain annoying complaints bands receive from people when drastically changing their sound. Remarks like, ‘why wouldn’t you change the name of the band’ or ‘why don’t you play any of your old heavy songs’ are some of the first few whingy statements that come to mind and are usually at the top of the comments on social media posts.
I mean sure, it can be hard to accept when you’re so hooked on a certain sound and era of a band/artist and there are plenty of them that have shifted their sound and definitely far from nailed it (*cough* 30 Seconds to Mars). But if there is one band that has completely altered their sound and continues to surprise and grow immensely with every release, it’s Hundredth. Now back with their fifth album Somewhere Nowhere, we see the band take the biggest jump, headfirst into their neon coloured, shoegazey world.
Hundredth’s debut album When Will We Surrender dropped exactly ten years ago and no one could have predicted where the band would be today. I jumped aboard the Hundredth train around the time their third album Free was released and have followed them like a sheep ever since.
Rare was the very first taste of the band’s new gleaming direction and sound, kicking their heavier side to the curb and testing long time fans on their loyalty. Ultrarare was then released a year later and is essentially a reimagined/remixed version of Rare. Through this record, we saw the band further test the waters with more of a synth-pop and electronic sound, Chadwick describing it as ‘Rare is the Rush, Ultrarare is the comedown’. Chadwick also had revealed his side solo project Pure Violet in 2017, which certainly affirmed his attraction to more of a dreamy, synth pop side.
Presenting the world with more evidence of their talent to shape shift, Hundredth dropped two killer covers, ‘Idoiteque’ (Radiohead) and ‘Sleeping In’ (The Postal Service) at the start of 2020. Both tracks left fans longing for more of this dreamy, nostalgic sound from the band. Hundredth spent months leading up to the announcement of Somewhere Nowhere, teasing and confusing fans on Twitter and Instagram through countless photos of frogs, which eventually all made sense when the record artwork was revealed. I think we have come to expect the unexpected when it comes to Hundredth and most fans will continue along for the ride. Unless you have Ranidaphobia (fear of frogs).
Delving straight into lush electronic sounds, title track ‘Somewhere Nowhere’ takes your hand and leads you on a journey through a kaleidoscopic world. Even though Hundredth’s overall sound is no longer heavy, the lyrics retain the weight. Even in this bright and vivid world we are venturing through, there is a constant sense of darkness, casting a shadow of uncertainty and doubt for what’s to come.
I honestly can’t sit still when listening to ‘Out Of Sight’. It seems to ever so softly sweep you up, then you’ll be tapping your feet, swaying and drifting into another world without a second thought.
Now I was born in the 90s, but ‘Bottle It Up’ makes me feel like I’m dancing in a neon lit club in the 80s with a terrible perm, big shoulder pads and leg warmers. Chadwick has previously mentioned that he is able to create a whole different mood and atmosphere through synthesizers in comparison to guitar and this song is the perfect example of that. Chimey chords, charming melodies and echoey, distorted vocals make this song feel like it’s flourishing right in your eardrums. I didn’t know you could feel nostalgic for a time when you weren’t even alive, but Hundredth have proven that’s completely possible.
‘Leave Yourself’, ‘Whatever’, ‘Iridescent’ and ‘Cauterize’ were all released as singles last year and are still on heavy rotation in my playlist. They all worked well individually as singles and even better as a part of the album as a whole. Out of these tracks, ‘Whatever’ is my favourite. Drenched in shimmery, lush textures, it’s a melodic, captivating masterpiece. Lyrics ‘It’s like pulling a flower from the vine and taking it home, just to find, you’re all alone, it’s been dead the whole time’ struck a serious chord with me, making me feel understood somehow.
The beginning of ‘Silver’ deserves a big mention. All these individual layers are split up one by one, allowing us to clearly hear how naturally they build on top of each other and blend together, creating this glowing and charming melody. It’s nice to see these elements broken down, giving us the chance to hear how it’s been constructed from the ground up.
‘Why’ is certainly more on the electronic side, making me badly crave dancing in the sun with friends at a music festival. It’s the definition of a ‘feel good’ song, sure to vastly improve your mood by at least 80%. ‘Slack’ definitely has some Rüfüs Du Sol vibes floating throughout. It’s uplifting and airy, creating a blissful atmosphere.
Chadwick’s vocals shine blindingly bright in track ‘Burn Slow’, potentially his best vocal performance yet through huge falsetto’s and soaring melodies. It’s followed nicely by ‘Way Out’, which takes the opportunity to slow things down a little amongst the frequent foot-tapping snares.
The momentum of ‘Too Late’ is more of an eerie sound, intensified through echoed harmonies and driving percussions. Partnered with splashes of colourful synths softly fluctuating in and out, it beautifully draws the album to a close.
Sonically, Hundredth have unreservedly surpassed the shoegaze genre. Their use of electrified synths, energetic percussions and reverberated melodies deserves an entire genre of its own. Somewhere Nowhere is an atmospheric delight that will warm hearts all over the world. From their heavier roots, to their indie pop stems, Somewhere Nowhere radiates glimmering synths and vivid electronic beats, allowing Hundredth to blossom into something even more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.
Hundredth – Somewhere Nowhere tracklisting
- Somewhere Nowhere
- Out of Sight
- Bottle It Up
- Leave Yourself
- End up Alone
- Burn Slow
- Way Out
- Too late