June 1, 2018

Review of “Noonday Dream” the latest from Ben Howard

Ben Howard’s new album, “Noonday Dream,” dropped today and we got a sneak peak. Read on for contributor Haley Killam’s thoughts on the record.

Howard’s album sees way more diversity than his previous ones by way of instruments with “Nica Libres at Dusk” ending in piano and “Someone In The Doorway” starting off with only drums and vocals. This album continues what he does best — painting landscapes, both physical and emotional spaces, through instrumentation and his cathartic lyrics.

“Noonday Dream” seems to rely far less on Howard’s singing capabilities than his past work. His voice is almost exclusively there to tell a story, in the low and humbled tone of someone who has been through some shit. In his past albums, he has used his vocals as more of an instrument — howling throughout “The Wolves” and harmonizing with the guitar strings in the intro of “Old Pine,” all while also telling universal yet individual stories through his lyrics. This third album picks up where “I Forget Where We Were” left us — in a chaotic place — and Howard creates that space for the listeners through the syncopated drums and almost dizzying synthesis of high and low frequencies that makes for an emotionally immersive listening experience.

Photo Credit; Roddy Bow

Favorite song - The Defeat.

Highlight tracks;

“Nica Libres at Dusk”

Howard opens the album with this song, letting us know right away this album is a culmination of his first two. While “Every Kingdom” relied almost entirely on acoustic fingerpicking and “I Forget Where We Were” on harmonious electric guitar synths, “Noonday Dream” is a melancholic layering of the two.

“Someone In The Doorway”
Got some Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse type singing going on here with some vibrant violin that we heard in “Every Kingdom,” with heavy electric guitar riffs carrying throughout.

The drums, WTF, so awesome — never heard a Howard song with percussion like this one.

“Murmurations”
Really haven't heard this side of Howard before. The raw rock drum percussion against the synthy and layered distorted guitar really shows how far he has come as an artist from his heavily acoustic roots.

Touring the summer in Europe, Howard won’t be stateside until the end of September. Get on those tickets though, they're going fast.

Published by: Grady Olson