Ben Howard | Noonday Dream

6/10 Half asleep.

The third album from Britain’s favourite surfing folkie starts off promisingly enough with the aptly dreamy “Nica Libres At Dusk”; a swirling, gentle strum of a tune that recalls the better moments from his 2014 sophomore album “I Forget Where We Were”. A few listens in though, and the wheels begin to come off, thanks to a self indulgent streak that underpins the whole album.
Recorded between rural France and Southwest England (Howard’s neck of the woods), it’s a very personal affair that is at times stunning, but at others quite heavy going. A number of tracks kind of fizzle out or just don’t go anywhere, (“A Boat To An Island On The Wall”, “Someone in the Doorway”, while others plod along monotonously to a disappointing end.
As with “IFWWW”, the lap-cradled acoustic/percussive guitars are pushed to the periphery, and instead it’s more dreamy electric soundscapes that recall early Verve – all spooky ambience and reverb echoing around in a hollow chamber. The result is a continuation of the darker, richer and stranger experience of album two, compared to his more poppy debut.
That said, there are moments of loveliness (“There’s Your Man” and the aforementioned opener), but sadly this time there just aren’t enough of them.
Dan Ashcroft
Like this? Try these:

David Gilmour On An Island
Pink Floyd guitarist goes it solo to stunning effect.

Damien Rice My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Beardy Irish troubadour’s comeback special.

ElbowThe Take off and Landing of Everything
Uplifting Guiness-powered indie prog from Bury’s finest.


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