Review Summary: Like a sticky wet dream filled with delusion and drenched in reverb.
If there’s one thing that the last decade unintentionally and unapologetically gifted us of is metal bands going mainstream. Without weighting in on every single artist’s motives as honest or not, I’m just going to assume that a large majority of these bands managed to make the jump while retaining considerable respect and loyalty from new and old fans alike. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s Hundredth certainly belong in this group, as their radical and irreversible switch in sound has been met with clamour and acclaim since the release of their fourth record RARE.
Started out as a melodic hardcore project with an eye for catchy choruses and breakdown-heavy song structures, Hundredth have now devoted themselves to slower, mellower, and much dreamier endeavours. RARE, in a way a debut record under this “new management”, surprised fans and critics for the mature and cathartic composition it boasted. For a band that had always handed heavy and robust materials, switching to a much gentler and delicate sound would normally require some trial and error. Yet Hundredth, captained by vocalist Chadwick Johnson, has sailed on steadily, carried by such favourable winds. There’s no question this was a smart move as the band’s new brand of dreamy shoegaze/indie-rock feels much more mature than their hardcore ever did.
Galvanized by such favourable (and deserved) reception, Hundredth have continued expanding their boundaries by self-releasing a compilation EP of reworked tracks from RARE, Ultrarare. On Ultrarare, synths forcibly took the space that guitars had fittingly occupied and ultimately the EP felt like coming down from the high that RARE was. Despite sounding more like exploiting RARE’s success than a legitimately sound record, this release if anything, signifies that the band has comfortably shed skin and has found a sound that they fully feel comfortable with. Out of this prolific progression come the four tracks on this self-released EP, the strongest Hundredth have released so far. The dreamy and lush sound showcased on Iridescent is as much as a continuation of the one debuted on RARE, as much as it’s its culmination. These four songs follow along the same dreamy, and vaguely melancholic path of the twelve on RARE, but they’re quite possibly drenched in even more delay, covered in even more layers of sugary reverb and stuffed with even more addictive hooks.
‘Whatever’s relaxed verse and its mellow trance-inducing chorus delicately lift up and calm the listener, while the repetitions in the chorus “Run run run away // feel good today // think about anything // be whatever I wanna be” effectively induce a dream-like serenity. ‘Cauterize’ transports us spellbound to a seemingly familiar space. “It’s all a waste of time, so I… cauterize… cauterize… cauterize” sings Chadwick over these bright post-rock-y guitars, as much a lyrical repetition as it is a mantra. The slowed down tempo of these songs dramatically favours their simple verse-chorus progression, heightening this floating sensation induced in the listener.
There is however, a special kind of energy to these very quiet and gentle tunes. Hundredth had already presented us with this dreamy shoegaze, but on Iridescent the dose hits faster and the trip lasts longer and is much more vivid, with the reason being the indie-rock vibe is now even more obvious and sonically confident. The sound is crispier, the hooks catchier, the guitars sweeter, and the vocals brighter. Chad’s voice is soaring over the rich and lush instrumentation, very much in contrast with RARE’s more hushed character. These songs are oozing with dreamy and sugary hooks and it’s impossible not to become sickly addicted to them. The title track is quite possibly the most shameless indie-rock anthem Hundredth has produced as of yet. The chorus is bombastic but not too loud, the verse is laid-back but not stripped back, and the bridge does a great job at keeping the same level of energy and leaving the song feeling like a rush of adrenaline and like not coming down from a chorus-high.
Lyrically the EP revolves around struggling with substance abuse and addiction, and escaping feelings of sadness, solitude, and delusion, veins that Chadwick had struck in previous occasions. The writing is sharp, simple, and sincere, at times a little vague but never enough to sound unauthentic or artificial, and overall does a great job at completing the soundscape Hundredth paint on this short EP. ‘Leave Yourself’ is the most dynamic song the band has written in a while, and one where Chad really shines, singing on a brighter and more spacious song. Definitely something I would care to hear more of on future releases.
Hundredth have kept themselves busy since their drastic change in style, releasing a substantial amount of new material, signifying that they know themselves how vast their potential is. They definitely sound like they do, as these four tracks show a band destined to become one of the biggest names in the alternative indie/shoegaze panorama. And coming down the high from the trip that Iridescent was, to me they already are.
Nothing to say about the cover art. Green velvet always felt and looked like pretend boujie to me.
Given that there are only four songs on this EP I’m only choosing my favourite: Whatever.