The Hundred in the Hands, Red Night

Annie Zaleski

By Annie Zaleski

on 06.11.12 in Reviews
Haunted, insistent synth-pop

On their 2010 self-titled debut, the Hundred in the Hands stuck mainly to haunted, insistent synth-pop; the cumulative effect was Young Marble Giants and Broadcast having a summit at a hip disco. The New York duo’s sophomore album, Red Night, doesn’t fully abandon that sound: The ink-dark title track is subtly terror-inducing — thank Eleanore Everdell’s detached vocal layers, shadowy keyboard pulses and thudding, metronome-steady beats — while “Recognise” has a lush foundation based on skittering programming and dank rhythmic syncopation. But Red Night is far more urgent than The Hundred in the Hands, mainly because the band pushes Jason Friedman’s aggressive guitars to the forefront. Jagged electric shards stomp through the monstrous pogo “Come With Me” (which in turn pushes Everdell to increase the desperation in her voice, with fantastic results), while reverb-laden, needling riffs on the Bat For Lashes-esque “Faded” fall somewhere between U2′s posturing and nimble math rock. Even Friedman’s less-confrontational contributions are engaging: Comet-streak riffs ripple through the droning keyboards and DFA beats of “Keep It Low,” making the song sound shrouded in frosty fog. Unsurprisingly, Red Night‘s lyrical themes reflect these unsettled, restless vibes; the protagonists of these songs are mostly longing for, chasing after or waiting for other people. However, the final song, “Lead in the Light,” ends the album on a positive note: As sustained guitars spread like an oil slick over a plush bed of synths, Everdell trills out a grand pronouncement, “I will stay with you.”