As I was listening to Return of the Century, The 1900s‘ second full-length album and first since Cold & Kind three years ago, I kept returning to an idea about The 1900s that is more true of them than most other bands I’ve listened to recently: They’re timeless.
They’ve got a sound to ’em that would’ve fit in congruently with bands like the Eagles, The Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. The latter band, actually, must’ve been a big influence in the music of The 1900s. I certainly hear remnants of them in the new record, especially in songs like “Lay A Ghost,” “Zerkalo” and “Bmore.” The 1900s stay true to Fleetwood Mac in both their instrumentation — rolling, whimsical beats — and in pairing opposite sex vocalists. The leads are like next gen Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks‘.
Similarly, “Kidnap Runaway” has a distinct New Pornographers quality to it. It’s in the vibrating guitar that opens the track, and the sounds emanating from the pipes of Edward Anderson, who reminds me in ways of A.C. Newman. There’s also heavy use of back-up “ooooh oooohs,” tambourine and snaps.
Yet where the two bands separate, for me, is in the dreaminess of The 1900s’ sound. There’s a nonchalant-ness (it’s a word) about them that a band like The New Pornographers doesn’t replicate fully. You hear it in “Lions Fur,” too. The 1900s evoke such freedom in their tunes, even though they no doubt structure the hell out of their material.
The only 1900s album I have familiarity with prior to the new one is their 2009 EP, Medium High. What I can say, then, is their new music sounds more accessible than I remember.
There’s an assurance about them, too, I didn’t recognize in Medium High. Granted, Medium High was a piecemeal effort in that it was a collection of B-sides and re-imaginings recorded at various times that were pasted together on one disc. For that, Return of the Century sounds more cohesive because it was planned that way. Yet even in knowing this as I dug into the new material, I came away with a respect for what I read as confidence in what their sound has evolved into.
They think they’re making music that is, as I said, timeless, eternal — and it is!
- The 1900s, based in Chicago, is comprised of Edward Anderson (guitar/vocals), Caroline Donovan (vocals), Andra Kulans (violin), Jeanine O’Toole (vocals) and Charles Ransford (bass).
- Return of the Century is available for pre-order on Parasol Records’ website for $10 (CD) or $11 (vinyl). You can also freely stream it through Bandcamp below!
- Spin’s got access to The 1900s’ music video for new song, “Amulet.” Check it here.
The 1900s performing “Two Ways” in WGN’s studios in Chicago