Review : The Hundred in the Hands - Red Night
PitchforkIgnore that date an inch or so above this thing, throw on Red Night, and ask yourself, "what year is this?" Do you want it to be 1999? You could do a lot worse-- Timbaland was at his creative peak, the strength of America's economy could be demonstrated by Memphis Bleek going gold, and you'll get to hear The Soft Bulletin for the first time again. Maybe you weighed 20 pounds less, too. Heady times, all around. The Hundred in the Hands can help get you there with Red Night, since it's the kind of record equally at home at Starbucks and Sharper Image, the kind of folktronic coffeeshop fare that got called futuristic so often before the turn of the century, but that just ended up being the sound of then instead of now.
Fitting that Red Night sounds like such a throwback to an economic boom time, as these songs give off a strong whiff of luxury problems, the sense of being unfulfilled while having most of your basic needs fulfilled. It feels like a part of the Hundred in the Hands' DNA: Eleanore Everdell's vocals do convey a certain elegantly wasted sex appeal, adopting pretty much every accepted permutation on "breathy" or "chanteuse." But these songs seem to take place in a vacuum or a mirror, lacking any kind of romantic victim or victor. Likewise, Jason Friedman's programming is slick, gleaming, and sanitized-- sounds that trigger the agreeable idea of paying downtown rents, without having to consider the grit, bustle, or danger that goes along with it. Put together, most of Red Night inevitably rings insular and vaguely dissatisfied. There's nothing wrong with most of the songs here, they just hint at a desire to be ambitious without much of an idea of how to go about it. ...full text
DiffuserYou probably know Forever 21, the mega successful disposable fashion chain filled to the brim with imitation designer clothes. With ‘Red Night,’ the Hundred in the Hands try to balance the chic and the cheap, but like a shirt from that notorious retailer, it falls apart after a couple wears.
The second studio album by Eleanore Everdell (vocals and keys) and Jason Friedman (guitars and programming) wears its influences strongly. Elements of early Florence + the Machine are here, but Everdell cannot carry a song like Welch does; the dancier tracks are like LCD Soundsystem without the goofy sense of humor; the aggressive cuts like the Knife, but where the Swedish band experimented with abandon, ‘Red Night’ comes off as derivative and listless — though there are moments of glory.
Opener ‘Empty Stations’ builds up a soft Explosions in the Sky swell before charging into an electro-operatic chorus, Everdell’s ultra-produced vocals echoing and tense. But just as the album gathers momentum, it calms down with ‘Recognize,’ all swaying and somber with intricate guitar work reminiscent of Dirty Projectors , followed by a cathartic second half. While they won’t be praised for inventive lyricism, Everdell’s vocals soar in the roaring, thumping ‘Come With Me.’
While the Hundred in the Hands are clearly nocturnal, the title track is tragically somnambulant: You might call it experimental, but a better word might be uninteresting, as Everdell mumble-sings about falling in love over a droning, draining beat. ‘Keep It Low’ is a wake up, a caffeinated single-to-be that deserves a fist pump or five. Less exciting is ‘SF Summer,’ ostensibly about a California city and languid in vocals and production, with Everdell describing fog and worrying about missing New York....full text
DrownedinsoundWarp Records are back in electropop mode, showing the label’s now as comfortable playing ball with the industry as it is signing pill-fiends who’ll only release on wax. New Yorkers Hundred in the Hands fall somewhere in between: their debut was viewed as insurance by Warp’s die-hards; a unit-shifter that smelt like Crystal Castles, ready to be deployed in case of sales tailed off. That never happened, and the label have now brought Jason Friedman and Eleanor Everdell back for round two. Red Night finds the duo pushing their noise-stomp formula to its cinematic limits, bringing everything from guitars to herbal bath music and making the future leap to third album unthinkable (unless they can hire Michael Bay).
Red Night’s strength is its atmosphere: this is a stirring, pulsating record, as likely to win praise for its bold arrangements as it is to be mistaken for the Corrs dropping ketamine. Everdell and Friedman try out everything: the Doppler effect on ‘Keep It Low’, which piles dub grooves over Ecstasy metaphors (”Under solid black skies / Wide awake eyes / Don’t want to go home / We stay under / Distant tunnels”), to the gentle electronica of ‘Faded’, where Everdell laments her broken heart. There’s so much bombast it could be a Kristen Stewart film, or at least the 47 minute trailer for one, without the throaty voiceover....full text
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