The Hundred In The Hands The Hundred In The HandsThe Hundred In The Hands
She is Eleanore Everdell, an opera and musicology student and occasional collaborator of TV On The Radio, and he is Jason Friedman, from the group The Boggs. Holly Miranda introduced them a couple of years ago, they fell in love, and decided to start to use their fat address book of contacts to give shape to a brand-new project from their dreams. At a time when boy-girl duos come a dime a dozen, our stars baptised themselves in homage to the Battle of the Hundred Slain (1866), in which Lakota Native Americans killed nearly a hundred American soldiers. And unlike other of the season’s great couple names (from Dominant Legs to Slow Club, including Summer Camp and Sleigh Bells), the truth is that their name couldn’t be less suitable for their tendencies and aspirations. Because what The Hundred In The Hands are dying to be is bursting with cosmopolitism, nocturnal activity and treachery, or, as they say in “Gold Blood” , in which they seem to dress up like transvestite Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to blend the Downtown spirit with the Uptown. Yes, yes, it’s all anxieties in the city, plenty of coolness, romanticism and skyscrapers; that is, it’s very easy to get the idea, but not so attractive to connect it entirely.
Next to the also very New York “Say It” by Born Ruffians, this debut is the least “Warp”—and surely the least cerebral– that has come out of Steve Beckett’s label in it’s entire history. Jason explains: according to him, what most got their attention as a group was the possibility “of mixing live elements with more electronic things, to blend together completely different productions.” Effectively, the majority of the songs focus on the confrontation between the analogue and the digital, almost all born and recorded to have make-up applied afterwards from all of the jars and tubes belonging to their string of producer friends. Jacques Renault, Richard X, Eric Broucek and Chris Zane have exciting CV’s, but not even their names manage to raise the level of an indolent, slacker of an album that you have to turn the volume all the way up on in some passages just to be able to hear something. Eleanore and Jason wanted to slip in a bunch of nods here to all of the music that they listen to (and they listen to a lot of things: disco, dub, electro, R&B, ska, electronic, reggae, hip hop, rock), but it seems like they have lost the guidelines to give to each producer, as well as the instructions on “how to finish a song well.”
So, the colour of this debut LP pales in the face of what they showed this same year in the EP “This Desert”, a more primary, loveable release that included little gems like “Tom Tom”. “The Hundred In The Hands” starts out erotic, with Studio 54 in it’s rear-view mirror and the bright lights of “Young Aren’t Young” dazzling like Moroder, but it ends up revealing itself to be saccharine, without ever really entirely gelling. Not even several cups of coffee with Blondie or the occasional line of crap cocaine manage to make things sound as hot as The Ting Tings ( “Pigeons”). The weakness of “This Day Is Made” and the total apathy that “Killing It” suffers from show the signs that everything could have been much better, while “Commotion” does cause a slight commotion that, nevertheless, only manages to make us miss The Long Blondes. After the fit of “Dressed in Dresden”, an attractive song that an infinite number of neo-rock bands have composed in the last five years, they start to spew out references to Chris Marker’s “La Jetée” ( “Last City”) and May of ’68, in a suggestive “The Beach” that can’t get out of Brooklyn, enchanted like Portishead’s “Third”. But by then they will already sound too snobbish, something like the ideal-soundtrack-of-death-to-illustrate the fall of American Apparel. From here we can extract the moral of the story for the irregular The Hundred In The Hands: they might mark fashion, but they don’t have their own trademark.