17 October, 2014

Album Review... Ben Howard - 'I Forgot Where We Were'

It's easy enough to forget where Ben Howard's been. After an illustrious eighteen-months that followed his mesmerising debut album, 'Every Kingdom', the gentle pitter-patter lead up to his second, 'I Forgot Where We Were', has gone almost un-noticed.

The pace was set by 2012's single 'Oats In The Water'; a disturbing and trembling alteration in sound, flattening a new landscape to lead smoothly into this latest album which instantly oozes even more intriguing, thicker twangs from the guitar in 'Small Things'.

Much like the album artwork itself, 'I Forgot Where We Were' sheds the light and darkness upon Ben. With that said, 'Evergreen' is not exactly what it suggests, containing the bleakest and most sombre moments of the album rather than an ever blossoming nature that we've become accustomed to. 'Rivers in my Mouth', tries to keep up the momentum behind 'Keep Your Head Up', but gracefully inverts back into a spiral of nostalgic obscurity. 'She Treats Me Well' on the other hand, wields a catchy riff with a straight cut blues edge to it, likening to the work of fellow British triumphant, Paolo Nutini. 

Slipping away from the moral preacher and chanter of 'keep your head up', he's decided to rid himself of his worries on this record. From the opening cries of 'has the world gone mad, or is it me?' to 'The End Of The Affair's harrowing tale of forgotten love and climaxing yells of 'what the hell?' are the most powerful segments of Ben Howard to date. Whilst these firework finales verge on breath-taking, the more fragile ending moments, such as the final strums of 'Conrad' are modest and also quintessential to the makeup of the album. 

Where ‘Every Kingdom’ could be accused of portraying everything through rose-tinted spectacles, this album pushes the boundaries to the polar opposite. It’s a slow and honest process of peeling away the human layers, backed up by a refined grip of the guitar. Add in the more serious undertones from lamenting strings and shuddering drums and it's an album befitting to pour into the grandest settings around.

By Joshua Shreeve

Ben Howard - I Forgot Where We Were
Out of 10: 8/10

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