It’s been a long three years since Ben Howard has released debut album ‘Every Kingdom’, which saw him win two BRIT awards in 2012. Now, Howard returns with his highly anticipated sophomore album ‘I Forget Where We Were’ out tomorrow (October 24) via Universal Music Australia.
Echoing guitar hooks that open the album on ‘Small Things’ are indicative of the darker sonic palette and the direction that the new music has taken. The harmonies carried by Howard and backing vocalists and instrumentalist India Bourne are outstanding.
After an intense start, the faster pacing, ‘River in Your Mouth’ lightens the mood, mellowing your way into the album. The track shares similarities to Ben Howard’s older catalogue, and almost becomes the ‘Old Pine’ of the album with its progressive beat.
Title track ‘I Forget Where We Were’ starts off quite slow but come about 3 minutes in, Howard’s vocals take off when he howls the lyrics ‘I forget where we were’ multiple times over, an awe-inspiring addition to the song. The is sonically quite different to what we expect from Ben Howard, for starters the sound is more electric as opposed to Howard’s trademark acoustic sounds not unlike the technically impressive finger picking of guitar chords in ‘In Dreams’. The track, which sounds like it could belong on previous Burleigh Island EP, really showcases Ben Howard’s striking skills as a guitarist, which often goes unnoticed.
The first single off the album ‘End of An Affair‘ delivers Howard’s trademark picking and strumming guitar melodies and tranquil tone. The breathtaking track provides 7 minutes and 47 seconds of total bliss that will leave you speechless by the end of the track. The album ends of drum heavy beat ‘All Is Now Harmed’. The dark song nicely contrasts itself to the rest of the album and adds volume to this cohesive body of work.
Produced by Ben and drummer Chris Bond, the album is full of depth, experimentation and maturity that justify the lengths of the songs, with only one song under the four minute mark. The album is interesting with every song having its stand out moment of absolute perfection. Sonically, the music speaks for itself with many songs going minutes without vocals, thus letting the impressive instrumentation shine.
It’s been a long three-year wait, but it was worth waiting every month, day and hour for this masterpiece and dare I say, the best album of the year. Even if you weren’t a fan of his first album, give this a listen – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ben Howard ‘I Forget Where We Were’ – Out October 24!