Honestly, it’s just good that we’re getting new Hundred Reasons music at all. They peaked with their debut Ideas Above Our Station in 2002, critically and commercially, after which everyone basically decided to drop them. Granted, the decreasing quality of their subsequent handful of albums would contribute to that (though it was far from a nosedive like some will assert), but Hundred Reasons have still always deserved their chance to flourish. Among that early-2000s wave of Britrock, they were well up there, and to have the legs hacked out from under them doesn’t feel fair. They’ve been around since, with sporadic reunions and live appearances since 2012, but Glorious Sunset is their first lot of new music since 2007, now operating on a seemingly more permanent basis.
At least this time, there’s the benefit of historical context and expectation to keep things a bit more held up. Particularly in the sense that, no, this isn’t the fast-pass back to the top for Hundred Reasons. They’re too straightforwardly earnest and lacking the flash and aesthetic of modern alternative music for that; they do feel like a band from a different era entirely. But they also aren’t here to be sequestered into the nostalgia box either, as Glorious Sunset can still fully stand on its own merits, in melody, power and top-end hook-work. Put simply, it’s Hundred Reasons’ best album since their debut, in no uncertain terms.
It can also be acknowledged that, even so, there isn’t a ton to say about it. That’s a long-running characteristic of Hundred Reasons’ music, where their best efforts come from big, anthemic rock music refreshingly free of gimmickry. It’s not old-fashioned though, at least not in the pejorative sense. The title track ensures the album roars into life in that exact frame of mind, funnelling a mammoth radio-rock chorus through bright, pounding euphoria that captures every ounce of joy at having this band back. New Glasses follows on a similar bent—maybe with a bit more 2000s indie in there for good measure—while Replicate’s pithy strings and piano provide the album’s sharpest swerve, but a lovely one all the same.
Pound for pound, Glorious Sunset just feels more alive and exuberant than so many similar albums. Maybe it’s the benefit of some extended refresh time, but it’s hard to deny how good these songs are, on a sonic basis alone. The spirit of second-wave Britrock is alive and well here, with guitars and bass that allowed a bit more crunch on top of killer melodic instincts. Larry Hibbitt’s extensive and varied production CV hasn’t gone to waste, nor has Colin Doran’s raspier, deliberately unpolished vocals. Even if he’s not a technically gifted singer (and his habit of some slightly wonky enunciation hasn’t gone away), it’s part of the salt-of-the-earth charm that Hundred Reasons wear so well. Even a couple of decades later, they still come across as though they’re playing in the same communal scene, without even a hint of the naivety that could inspire.
That’s mostly because Hundred Reasons just work as a purely good rock band, regardless of what’s around them. At this point, there’s really no consistency to how their former peers come and go, so barrelling headlong as they do here is simply the right move. You can definitely assign that thought process to The Old School Way, but there’s really no need to go digging into subtext when the big-hearted, big-riffed exterior makes that so clear on its own. Indeed, the presence of an older, wiser band is a notable boon, as it threads a note of glory into a loved one’s loss on the title track, or a more measured approach to revealing someone’s true colours on New Glasses and Wave Form.
It all hits a spot that perfectly encapsulates where Hundred Reasons should be as a band in 2023—older and more cognisant of what that can bring, but not so much that overrides a shared love for music and the expression it allows. Nothing about Glorious Sunset rings like the corporate Britrock of a generation past them; it’s too pure of a rock experience to even encroach on that. And that’s always been the kicker with Hundred Reasons, how despite the infinite number of more innovative acts out there, they can power on through on determination and killer songs alone. Clearly a fallow 16 years hasn’t changed that one bit.
For fans of: Reuben, Hell Is For Heroes, The Xcerts
‘Glorious Sunset’ by Hundred Reasons is released on 24th February on SO Recordings.
Words by Luke Nuttall