The Hundred in the Hands

Red Night

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Red Night finds the Hundred in the Hands moving in a subtler, more expansive direction than the hard-edged electro-rock of their self-titled debut. While many groups would find such a change challenging, it actually suits THITH's strengths far better than their first full-length did. Their previous rock trappings are by and large gone, and when they do appear -- as on the dramatic opening track, "Empty Stations" -- they're tempered with a more sophisticated aesthetic that makes them part of the whole rather than the focus. Red Night's production and arrangements are gorgeous, with fascinating details that don't overwhelm the actual songs: "Recognise" is built on soft, shadowy layers of electronics that gently pull listeners closer to Eleanore Everdell's whispery vocals. Her singing is allowed to be purely beautiful on Red Night, whether she's singing over power chords as on "Come with Me" -- the closest the Hundred in the Hands have come yet to a pop song -- or over angelic layers of herself on "Lead in the Light," one of the album's simplest and strongest moments. All of this, combined with the more focused songwriting evident on songs such as "Keep It Low," reimagines THITH as a shimmering electronic pop group akin to Nedry or a more propulsive School of Seven Bells (especially on the chilly loveliness of "SF Summer"). However, Everdell and Jason Friedman also find time to revisit the more experimental territory of their debut EP, particularly on the bravely sparse "Red Night," where Everdell's sleepy vocal melody is tenuously supported by some skittering beats and flickering synths, and on "Tunnels"' industrial leanings. While some of Red Night's songs might still be a little too insular for their own good, the album still finds the Hundred in the Hands coming into their own and expanding their identity at the same time.

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