by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: The 1900s - Babies (MP3)
In 2007, Chicago's The 1900s dropped their full-length debut, Cold & Kind, on the world. Mixing baroque pop, '70s excess and a little VU chug, the album was one of that year's more underappreciated LPs. Three years, a lineup change, a stopgap EP and a side project later, The 1900s are back with Return of the Century. From the press release:
After parting ways with two founding members and shelving the Fleetwood Mac-esque romantic drama, Chicago pop band The 1900s spent the years since their Cold & Kind updating their line-up and trademark sound. Now a sleek 6-piece, singer/guitarist Edward Anderson, vocalist Caroline Donovan, singer Jeanine O'Toole, bassist Charlie Ransford, and violinist Andra Kulans are all about the journey.Return of the Century downlplays Cold & Kind's grandiosity just a touch (no oboe interludes this time) but hangs onto that album's strong points -- classically-constructed pop, gorgeous harmonies and sparkling arrangements. And while the romantic drama may be gone, they smartly retained a little of Fleetwood Mac's musical influence. With everyone and their mother covering "Dreams" this year, it's certainly not a bad reference to hold onto. (The album's "Overreactin'" owes more than a little to Buckingham/Nicks.) If you dug "Cold & Kind" and "Two Ways" off the first album (or "Collections" off last year's Medium High EP), you're really going to like Return of the Century.
While Return of the Century's doesn't hit till November you can get an early taste with first single, "Babies," at the top of this post. With lush strings and harmonies and rave-up vibe, it's pretty indicative of the rest of the album.
The band promise a tour announcement imminently but will be playing the Belle & Sebastian-curated Bowlie 2 in Summerset, UK. Their 2008 show at The Bell House with Stevie Jackson was one of my favorites of that year, and their live shows should not be missed if you get the chance to see them.
Cover art and tracklisting for Return of the Century, plus a live video, are below.
The 1900s - "Two Ways" live on WGN 2008
The 1900s - Return of the Century
2. Lay a Ghost
3. Kidnap Runaway
4. Lions Fur
10. Jean Demon