In 2014, indie-folkster Ben Howard released the career-defining I Forget Where We Were, a transportative album full of raw emotion and melody. His most recent release Noonday Dream feels similar in tone, but lacks the impact of his earlier work.
Opener Nica Libres at Dusk is quintessential Howard, with soothing folk-picked acoustic guitars, gentle vocal hums.
However, from here, his soundscapes become less dreamy, and more dreary, with an almost despondent tone in tracks such as Towing The Line and lead track A Boat To An Island On The Wall.
The best moments come towards the end of the record, as the largely instrumental A Boat To An Island Pt 2/Agatha’s Song moves from gentle, ambient drones to a darker, fuzzier sound, like a sea-storm rolling in. There’s Your Man gives some much-needed propulsion with a driving beat, and Howard’s most animated vocal delivery.
While Howard’s talent has never been in doubt, his song-writing seems to have flatlined here; if you find yourself nodding off while listening, you’re not alone.