Album review: Ben Howard - Noonday Dream
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After his debut album Every Kingdom was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2011, and follow-up I Forget Where We Were was subject to astounding critical acclaim, Ben Howard has become a musical icon. Newest album, Noonday Dream, breaks Howard’s mould of soft, dreamy vocals with intricate, often major-key acoustic guitar, turning into deeper, richer vocals and atmospheric, scene-setting instrumentals. The stunning guitar riffs and its pairing with Howard’s unique, transcendent vocals of I Forget Where We Were, specifically in ‘Time Is Dancing’ and ‘Conrad’, arguably make it a lot more palatable than his newest album. His pre-album single release, ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’, had mixed reviews. Howard grounds his songs in nature, invoking the sound of bees in the introduction, perhaps showing the influence of the album being written in rural Southern France and England. The single, like many of the tracks on the album, lacks the same melodic feel and climatic chorus and instrumentals that made Howard’s music so appealing. Furthermore, the fact that the track is seven minutes long, (and it has a part two!), the shortest on the album (apart from the interlude) being four minutes, mean that the songs seem to merely drift as the instrumentals become more mundane. Despite this, the tracks have a more spiritual feel, in ‘A Boat To An Island On The Wall’, slower distorted electric guitar chords are layered over a richer, amplified electric/synth based background, giving it more prominence. The synths in ‘Towing The Line’ are also more melodic, complementing Howards’ voice.
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Noonday Dream is out now.
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