Ben Howard certainly took his time making the second album he wanted to make – it’s finally being released three whole years after his debut offering.
But if you listen to its ten lengthy songs, with many lasting over five minutes, you’ll appreciate that it was time well spent.
After the critical and commercial success of 2011’s Every Kingdom, it would’ve been easy for Howard to stick with a formula that worked.
Yet he’s dropped the carefree, sing-along style that gained so many fans; I Forget Where We Were has a darker feel. He’s more of a deep-thinker now, with slow, cryptic, almost poetic songwriting. But he’s still the same old hopeless romantic.
Opener Small Things is sharp, edgy and sets the tone for an album you have to be in the mood for – there’s an overwhelming feeling of heartache throughout.
Despite it not sounding particularly cheery, She Treats Me Well has been described as “the only happy song on the album” by Howard in an interview with Zane Lowe.
With End Of The Affair reaching almost eight minutes, you can see that no compromises were made. Howard needs the space to show off his new refined, technically developed sound. It’s particularly impressive in this song because it was recorded live.
Echoing vocals and playful guitar riffs show off the talent which comes so naturally to Howard. Although he’s moved in a different direction, he’s still very much the same young man from Devon who won us over with Only Love.
The song you should listen to: