Some people have all the luck don’t they! It seems that so many bands in today’s musical climate can write one song and have a lot of success from very little work. This term however, does not apply to Hundred Reasons. After their second album, the brilliantly titled ‘Shatterproof is Not a Challenge’ was judged to have sold badly, the band were (unfairly) dropped from their record label, Sony BMG. Although it did
sell under half as many copies as their debut did, it still sold 58,000 copies, and that is not bad at all. Ever since then, their prospects haven’t been looking all that great to be honest. They have found themselves unfairly placed in support slots for bands who have put in noticeably less work to get where they are, than HR, and haven’t really had much of a look in when it comes to being the ‘popular’ band at any time. However, back in 2002 things looked considerably brighter for this UK quintet. They released several Top 40 singles from this album including ‘If I Could’
, ‘I’ll Find You’
; the album itself reached Number 6 in the album charts and even won Kerrang!’s album of the year in 2002, while not being a great magazine this is still a great feat.
What was exciting about Hundred Reasons at the time, and still is, is that they mixed the (at the time) fairly underground sounds of post-hardcore with more mainstream rock; almost like what the love-child of Foo Fighters and Boysetsfire would sound like. Their singles all displayed this and generated a lot of excitement about the band, and this, their debut album – and people were right to be excited; ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ is a brilliant beginning for Hundred Reasons.
Throughout the album they don’t stray very far from this blueprint of rock, with post-hardcore influences, and while this can get a little tedious, it is not a bad thing as they do it very well indeed. This is very evident in the singles released from the album that, at the time, caused a lot of excitement amongst British rock fans. The first single on the album, is the opener ‘I’ll Find You’
, and it is a great introduction as it is both brilliant and typical of HR’s main sound. Starting off with a confidently heavy, yet simple riff after an uncertain strike of the hi-hats, the band are rocking out with no one instrument standing out, all are just content to do their job. This allows no room for unnecessary showing off; instead, it just displays a strong sense of unity within the band. Colin Doran’s voice however, does
stand out, as it is very distinctive and strong; almost like an English Tim McIllrath – aggressive, yet with a melodic edge to it. Simply put, Hundred Reasons would be nowhere near as good as they are without him.
The album’s opener is a good indicator of what’s to come, as there are several all-out aggressive rock songs, yet with a great sense of melody; but there are also plenty of more melodic songs that in some cases see Doran’s voice almost reduced to a soothing whisper. A great example of this, and a great track, generally speaking, is ‘Falter’
. Colin’s almost whispered vocals sound great over the short repeated guitar pattern, as it rises before falling back down again. The rhythm section comes in at the start of the 2nd verse , with the drums providing some variation from the standard notion that a beat has to be played using a bass and a snare, as the toms come into play frequently. It all builds up gradually throughout the song with additions of instruments, change in dynamics and thickening textures until the song reaches its climax with Colin’s voice going from the whispered verses to a sung/shouted final chorus. The use of dynamics is done very well across the album, even if it is mainly the standard quiet verse-louder chorus dynamic. In ‘Silver’
they don’t rely solely on the dynamics to differentiate between verse and chorus, as guitarist Larry Hibbit sings the verse, while Doran sings the chorus. Larry’s voice is good, and is in fact strong enough to be a good lead singer, but obviously it doesn’t match up to Colin’s distinctive vocals. ‘Silver’ is one of the best songs on the album, ranging from quiet to loud, fast to slow and guitar led to synth led. There are no guitar solos on the album, in fact no actual solos on the album; the nearest they get to this is the synth riff in ‘Silver’; they manage to pull it off without sounding cheesy as it is also playing under the chorus to add a nice effect.
Of course they don’t always get everything right - this is their debut after all. Some songs come and go without very much impact at all; some even aren’t even given the opportunity to have much effect on the listener. Before ‘Drowning’
come and go without much effect, a song like ‘Shine’
, clocking in at just under 1-and-a-half-minutes is likely to come and go, just like that – and it does. Sure, it exerts a fair amount of aggression and energy in its short time span; but apart from that is nothing special – it is over before it really begins. Given a minute longer or so, and the song could well have been great, potentially the fastest and most aggressive song on the album, but with only two quick blasts of its chorus that don’t leave much impression whatsoever, it is disappointing. As it is, the most aggressive track on the album is ‘Gone Too Far’
. After some machine like, tom rolls the song explodes into a volley of screaming and heavily distorted guitars, before being balanced by a more relaxed, yet still speedy chorus. The hardcore sensibilities of ‘Gone Too Far’ are quickly contrasted by the gentle, mournful guitar strumming and soft vocals of the brilliant album closer ‘Avalanche’
. Including superb lines such as “With hands held together, the clouds part as if they know not to stand in our way.” It remains thin textured throughout, even in the chorus when Larry sings with Colin, as there is only an electric guitar to accompany them.
Overall, Ideas Above Our Station is a brilliant album, especially for a debut from a band that are now sadly looked at as ‘underdogs’ in the British rock scene. Back in 2002 the future looked bright for Hundred Reasons, but sadly they never enjoyed the success that they deserve, all because of label politics. A debut album is the first opportunity to for a band to let listeners know what they are about and this album certainly does that, as it mixes rock with post-hardcore brilliantly, as well as having great softer songs. There aren’t exactly one-hundred reasons to buy this album; but there is only ONE that is important and that is that Hundred Reasons rock! And this album proves it.