Hundred Plus Club’s ‘Need Boost’ twists influences to sound fresh and familiar

Former UB students’ first release in three years is brief but packed with memorable, thoughtful melodies

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Album: “Need Boost”

Artist: Hundred Plus Club

Label: Admirable Traits

Release Date: April 3

Grade: 8/10

Hundred Plus Club’s swirling pop hooks and dance-inducing beats have confidently stood out in Buffalo’s music scene ever since the group’s 2016 debut EP, “For You.”

The indie-rock quartet, composed of Western New York natives and former UB students, followed up its 2016 debut the next year with “Everybody’s Friend,” a similarly groovy and melancholic batch of tremendous tunes. The release lamented the group as one of Buffalo’s premiere rock acts. But after 2017, the band went quiet on the recording front until last Friday.

Enter “Need Boost,” the group’s newest EP released via Admirable Traits, a Buffalo-based independent record label. 

The record is a clear and effective continuation of where HPC left us in 2017, despite containing only two songs and clocking in at just seven and a half minutes long.

Both songs on the EP are driven by deceivingly complex and attentive drum patterns that refuse to sit in the background and keep the beat. The rhythm section, and all of HPC’s music, leans heavily on the machine-like and meticulous rhythm patterns of ‘80s post-punk legends like The Chameleons and New Order while sprinkling in some modern indie and dream-pop flare. 

Vocalist Zain Shirazi sings in a reserved, yet passionate baritone that perfectly complements and embodies the group’s sound and approach to music. An obvious comparison to Shirazi’s vocal style would be Paul Banks of seminal 2000’s indie rock group Interpol, whom HPC undoubtedly take a large influence from. 

“For You” opens with “I Want Better,” a mid-tempo rocker beginning with a simple guitar riff that wouldn’t feel out of place on Interpol’s “Antics.” But the song avoids being derivative when it abruptly veers left into dance-y and flamboyant territory that your average brooding post-punk revival band would never dream of venturing into. 

The EP’s atmosphere is calm, familiar and soothing, yet several key moments on “Need Boost” erupt from the mix and demand the listener’s attention before they get a chance to tune out. 

“Inside a Dream,” the EP’s closer, has a restrained pre-chorus that builds up tension before exploding into a refrain that shows the band at its most boisterous. A few moments during “Inside a Dream” are surprisingly reminiscent of “Angles”-era Strokes or “Better Nature”-era Silversun Pickups, with bouncing melodies that encourage the listener to get up and start goth sad-dancing. 

“Need Boost” closes with a prolonged jam section that lacks the direction and clear intent the other seven minutes do. It features a downright cool and rocking riff, but the closing section doesn’t ever seem to properly land on its feet. 

At the end of the day, HPC won’t wow you with genre-breaking originality, but the band will damn sure impress you with masterful and efficient indie-rock songwriting. While “Need Boost” isn’t necessarily new sounding for HPC, the title is definitely accurate. This EP is essentially just the HPC sound that has been curated since 2016 boosted up in several areas. 

The production is more pristine than ever, as dreamy guitar lines constantly weave in and out of the mix, amplifying their already luscious sound. Shirazi’s vocals are pushed forward in the mix more than they have ever been and their new wave traits bubble to the surface more frequently than on previous releases as well. 

“Need Boost” straddles the line of influence and new ideas to fantastic results, crafting something that feels as fresh and fun as it is familiar and safe. Everyone can find something to enjoy in the seven and a half minutes of HPC’s “Need Boost.”

Justin Woodmancy is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at justin.woodmancy@ubspectrum.com and @TheHandsomeLake