The 1900s are back after a three year break in which they’ve not only shaken up their lineup, but also updated their formerly retro-pop sound. Well, mostly. Though the band’s infusion of ’60s sunshine has been traded in for a psychedelic hum hovering just behind the acoustic guitars, hand claps and sweet violins, never fear. The retro feel is still there in songs like “Lay a Ghost” and “Lions Fur,” which boasts the delicious mix of a simple melody and complex vocal and instrumental arrangements.
The record, which contains a Decemberists-meet-Belle-and-Sebastian vibe, was loosely conceived on the mysterious disappearance of the Incredible String Band’s “Licorice” McKechnie, but lacks the brooding and hesitancy that one might expect from the concept. Instead, the 1900s alternate between three lead singers on the album with a mellow, indie bounce. Also apparent is a folk influence, particularly on the otherworldly “Tucson” and “Bmore,” with its hypnotic melody and vocal chorale.
With Return of the Century, the 1900s establish themselves at the forefront of the musical scene with the duality of catchy pop and contemporary lyrics, remaining modern while integrating the best elements of the past.
—Allison Johnelle Boron