Ben Howard’s Noonday Dream - What You Need To Know
Ben Howard’s new album Noonday Dream arrives on shelves today (June 1st) and here is everything you need to know about it...
What’s the background?
Back in 2011, Ben Howard made quite the splash with his debut album Every Kingdom. The album, a gentle collection of folk songs, wound up getting nominated for a Mercury Prize and selling over 600,000 copies in the UK alone. Its follow-up I Forgot Where We Were took Howard into arenas and onto the top of festival bills, but after he finished up his touring commitments for the album, Howard decided he needed to step away from everything.
Stepping away from everything for Howard meant travelling extensively, spending time in Nicaragua, his native Devon, Paris and as a jobbing guitarist for A Blaze Of Feather, the band led by his backing guitarist Mickey Smith.
Eventually, though he got back to work and the result is Noonday Dream.
Howard has largely taken charge of proceedings himself, working in several studios between south-west France and south-west England. He’s had a little help, Mickey Smith acts as co-producer on a few cuts, while John Corfield, who has worked with The Stone Roses, Oasis and Muse, also helped out with early sessions.
Any special guests?
What does it sound like?
Howard’s taste for the epic has only increased with only one track on the album clocking in at under four-and-a-half minutes. This is his most psychedelic collection to date with his vocals much lowered in the mix and the focus on creating huge soundscapes.
‘Towing The Line’, the only track to sit under the four-minute mark, is the closest thing you’ll get to the folky days of Every Kingdom, with its piercing guitars and gentle harmonies. ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’, named for the Nicaraguan rum cocktail Howard found himself consuming rather a lot of, is a meandering, Sigur Ros esque composition, full of wide-eyed wonder, while 'Boat To An Island On The Wall' is a jarring guitar collage, reminiscent of Kid A-era Radiohead.
There’s a lot going on here.
Does it deliver?
Anyone expecting a return to the gentle folk of Howard’s debut Every Kingdom is going to be disappointed, this is a sprawling collection of songs and sees Howard opening himself up to a range of new influences and styles.
Noonday Dream is an album you’ll need to spend time with, but the rewards are well worth it...