(Article adapted from my piece for Drunken Werewolf Magazine)
Formed of German siblings Eva and Philip Milner, alternative electro band Hundreds return on May 19th with their second album “Aftermath”. With a new found maturity to their sound, this song-focussed direction has spawned a wonderfully inspiring, and creative record that will appeal to pop, folk, and electronic fans alike.
The band boasts a ‘signature sound’ that is somewhere in between Sarah Blasko, Thea Gilmore and Joan As Policewoman, and by all accounts, “Aftermath” is a stunning, unique piece of work. The album is as much a brave experimentation with electronic, almost dance-like music, as it is an experiment with pop, and the way it traverses such a wide variety of influences is a real breath of fresh air.
Whereas songs like “Our Past” and “Please Rewind” have an epic Dance anthem feel to the vocals in their choruses, stripped back songs like “Circus” have much more of a folk/modern pop feel to them that wouldn’t be out of place on a Thea Gilmore record, and although this sounds like a strange juxtaposition of styles, it somehow manages to work. There are also some very dark songs on this album that play on the band’s skill with soundscapes, glitchy beats, electronic music in general. ‘Rabbits on the Roof’ is perhaps the biggest shock to the system as we are invited down a deep, dark hole by a number of abstract sounds and flickering drum beats similar to that of Radiohead, whilst the outro to “Please Rewind” is another double-take moment as we leave the track via a Nine Inch Nails-like instrumental section. It feels as if every tone and emotion possible is covered at least once in this album, and it is a wonder that it manages to gel together as well as it does sometimes.
Eva’s strong vocal performance deserves a special mention as well. Her voice is rich and warm, characterising both strength and fragility when needed. Her lyrics are well thought through (my favourite being “I want to foster my callousness on your mammary glands” – which was quite a shock to hear indeed!), whilst memorable melodies such as those in “Beehive” help tie the record together. At times, Eva’s voice reminds me of the strength of vocals in Enya’s music, whilst her overall tone is similar to that of Sarah Blasko, or perhaps Dido; which is most certainly a good thing in my books.
The biggest thing going for this record, though, is the variety and pace of it. Big electronic songs contrast excellently with the more fragile and introspective tracks, and it is this unpredictability that makes it such an enthralling listen. Using “Circus” as the single for the record was perhaps a little deceiving as it is the only song of its type on the album, but the personal stamp they have put on this nu-folk-esque song is a truly excellent one. This is by no means a formulaic and predictable record, but rather one that aims to challenge you and make you listen deeply.
“Aftermath” delivers aspects of dance, electronic, alternative, folk, and pop music, all with equal skill, in one record, and what they plan to create next excites me very much indeed. With no UK dates currently booked, buying the album is your next best bet.