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Ben Howard – Noonday Dream

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    On Ben Howard’s third solo album, entitled Noonday Dream, he continues to experiment with massive audio landscapes, precise musicianship, and his trademark low vocal delivery. The album was written and produced by Howard, with a few key production collaborations with band-mate Mickey Smith. On Howard’s first two albums, he established a rapport with his listeners that he has fine-tuned here on this third LP on Republic Records.

    The album itself starts off with the intricate “Nica Libres at Dusk,” that sets the table nicely for the rest of the content found on this effort. Guiding the listener down this dark landscape on the first sprawling track showcases the talent that Howard has as not only an incredibly talented musician, but also a captivating storyteller. This opening track features textured arrangements and “every-man” gruff vocals from Howard.

    The second track, and one of the first few tracks released prior to the album’s release date, “Towing the Line” starts off with some background noises, a piano playing, and eventually the intricate strumming of Howard’s acoustic guitar. The track slowly but surely builds up momentum as it gets going thru its folky beat, and leads up to a rewarding crescendo of Howard singing “Down here I call for you/You call for me.” This type of near spaghetti western-tinged track could easily find its way onto a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack.

    The first official single from the LP is the near-seven minute “A Boat to an Island on the Wall” that carefully introduces the story of a mariner on a journey in the ocean leading to his eventual goal of seeing landfall. The quiet strumming found early on in the track dramatically turns to a more aggressive beat and electric guitar that sonically grabs the attention of the listener from the all-too quiet and delicate openers. By the time you get to the eventual thrilling guitar solo found on this track, you have already convinced yourself that Howard deserves the critical praise he has since received for this thrilling mid-tempo single.

    Mid-album tracks such as “What the Moon Does” briefly lose the momentum that was gained from the lead single, but brood with confidence as Howard returns to his core sound that he has since established at this point in his young career. Howard’s casual observations on this track in lyrics such as “Feed the dog/Walk a mile/Tell me beautiful things/Like how the river bends” highlight his lyrical style for discovering the simplicity in every day occurrences, while still discovering his place in the universe.

    The unique time signature beats of my personal favorite track, “Someone in the Doorway,” help Howard breathe more life into this already great song featuring a jazzy electric guitar and well-placed keyboards. As comfortable as Howard is with his trademark sound, it’s easy to appreciate the challenges he sets forth on this LP, and leads to a more enjoyable overall listening experience.

    Even less appealing tracks such as the interlude found after the aforementioned track all have their place and purpose, as it builds up to noisy “The Defeat.” Of all the tracks found on this record that I would classify as a “headphones and lyric sheet album,” this track has the most textured sound to it, and rewards the listener looking for a deeper dive into the music.

    Additionally, the near-reprise of the “A Boat to an Island Part II…” track found in the latter stages of the album plays off semi-awkwardly in its sequencing, since it contains very little lyrical content shortly after an interlude just two tracks prior. However, the one-two punch of “There’s Your Man” and “Murmurations” end the album on a strong enough note to warrant several repeat listens and deeper dives into the lyrical content.

    Noonday Dream is not a perfect record, but with the confidence that Howard plays with on this LP, it would be relatively easy to be convinced otherwise. While some casual listeners may be turned off by the lack of easily distinguishable tracks going from song to song, they will only be cheating themselves from this fantastic album that will surely grow on those who give it an honest chance.

  2. nalabird4


    Very good review. IFWWW is in my top 3 albums ever so I had huge expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. Not on IFWWW’s level but a great follow up. “What the Moon Does” is one of best his songs period.
    paythetab likes this.
  3. Frinet42

    Regular Supporter

    Great review! This record is definitely going to take more headphone listens from me than any other record released recently besides maybe the national before I think I'll really be able to solidify any thoughts on it.
    paythetab likes this.