A slap in the face, the kind that rips you from some sedated slumber and presents you with absolute clarity. That’s what hits you 3 minutes and 27 seconds into the haunting experience of Ben Howard’s new album, I Forget Where We Were, leaving you with its ghostly imprint branded deep within your consciousness.
It is perfectly easy to listen to the album without acknowledging a single lyric, such is the undulating nature of Howard’s musical craft, a masterpiece that carries you, breathless, between the low vocal rolls in ‘She Treats Me Well’ and the raw screams erupting from ‘End Of The Affair’. Adding to this rich texture are soulful harmonies, intricate melodies and bittersweet guitar licks that reverberate long past the album’s conclusion, characteristics evident as you drift into the penultimate track, ‘Conrad’, a beautiful example of modern song writing.
Whilst maintaining the acoustic integrity of Howard’s debut album, Every Kingdom, I Forget Where We Were experiments with lucid pedal notes and a heavier use of electric guitar riffs that punch through the album’s flowing discourse before rippling along your nervous system. This effect mirrors the fluidity with which the songs melt into one, emphasising the cohesive beauty of this album. Each song is a captivating journey that makes you forget where you were at the end of its predecessor, until you find yourself in an entirely different place, an undiscovered state of mind. And because of the endless layers, each listen surrenders new secrets amongst countless destinations.
But whatever road you take during I Forget Where We Were it is unlikely you will hit a dead end, because, armed with a guitar and a liquid voice of smooth gravel, Ben Howard illustrates the peaks of paradise.