Growing up in Aldershot at the turn of the century, there wasn’t an awful lot to be proud of – we had a football club that rose from the ashes, were the home of the British Army and that was about it. As soon as I left school and started college (bear in mind I was a 15-year-old that revised to Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session) there were rumours of an incredible alternative music scene startinh to stir…
When the NME picked up on this scene, they described the quiet-ish Hampshire town as the UK’s version of Seattle and it wasn’t long before bands like Vex Red and Reuben were gaining loyal followings both at home and beyond. But it was Hundred Reasons that were leading the way and when they released one of the all-time great debut albums, ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in 2002 – complete with Top of the Pops appearances, magazine covers and sold-out shows at the Astoria – there was a buzz about the place, especially from those who had supported the band from the start. It still blew my mind to see the guy I bought second-hand computer games from on major festival stages and national television.
Anyhow, the band have now made a welcome return – after 15 years! – with brand new album ‘Glorious Sunset’, and it’s one that finds them tackling subjects of life and death, inclusivity and how we all can be better with frontman Colin Doran saying: ‘This album isn’t something we felt we had to do. We simply arrived at a position where the music was so good that it was something we needed to do.’
The title track opens the record and it’s just like the band have never been away, although they’re now focusing on more mature themes as Colin sings about the death of his mother after a long-term illness and all the emotions this arduous time brought about. Although glad to have had ’10 minutes with you before your very last breath’, he doesn’t back away from the feelings of anger and pain seeing a loved on suffer can bring about: ‘I wish I could beat you for the poison you are’. ‘New Glasses’ follows with a melodic sound reminiscent of Alkaline Trio as Colin roars ‘You make a mess and it’s time to walk away’ against shattering drums before ‘It Suits You’ – a distant cousin of all-time favourite ‘I’ll Find You’ – heads in a more frenetic direction as Colin lets his frustration out on somebody who isn’t making the most of their time: ‘I see through you and how your sacrifice means nothing to us now’; ‘It suits you, this lifestyle of self-depreciation’. ‘Replicate”s piano-led intro indicates another shift in one to something more thoughtful and emotional, complete with singalong elements and a sense of self-evaluation: ‘I’m yearning to be more like you but I’m turning away from what’s me’.
‘Done’ falls somewhere between Mineral and Into It. Over It. with its twinkly emo moments and thoughts on being ‘lost in emotion’ before ‘Right There With You’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Insultiment’ head into more dramatic and darker space, with the latter especially having elements of latter-day Biffy’s more experimental tones and crunchy riffs. ‘So So Soon’ opens with the words ‘You taught us to be alive’ – a common theme on this record – before turning into a woozy and melodic piece with an air of sadness: ‘You mae him feel like he’s nothing at all’. ‘The Old School Way’, another recent single, will take you right back to a moshpit in 2002 with its hooks you’ll be humming for days and words of warning – ‘Don’t take the word of a man with a broken heart. It never meant much, if anything at all’ – before ‘Wave Form’ brings the album to a fitting and fantastic finish with its observations on the value of real-life relationships and frustrations when someone you’ve fallen out with doesn’t want to reciprocate or reunite: ‘The TV was all you ever needed for company’; ‘Tell me you’re sorry’.
Hundred Reasons have made a glorious return with an album that finds them tackling a number of big issues and evaluating the complexities of human relationships and life itself.