English folk rock singer/songwriter Ben Howard has just released his sophomore album, I Forget Where We Were. One of the hardest working folk rock musicians in the business, Howard has been steadily releasing songs for the past few months to preview his upcoming album. The release proves that Howard is aiming for a darker sound, despite the primarily uplifting tracks on his last album. In a landscape dominated by poppy folk rock artists it can be difficult to compete for attention. However, Howard does just that with his own unique style.
The ten track album is a breath of fresh air for the adventurous folk rocker. Serious and moody is the basis of the album, but that does not stop some of the old uplifting flair that Howard has become known for on his last record. “Small Things” is the first track off of the album and it begins with the slow gentle strumming of his guitar before a brutal breakdown. The light sounding second track, “Rivers In Your Mouth” is a subtle shout out to his happier sounding debut album, Every Kingdom. Title track “I Forget Where We Were” is a sprawling epic that leaves the listener wanting more.
Loss and love is a popular subject on the album and the next four songs showcase this well. Howard slows down the pace considerably with “In Dreams”, “She Treats Me Well”, “Time Is Dancing” and “Evergreen”. While every track plays at the same solemn pace, Howard still manages to make each song its own. Intricate and dark, every song is a story of lost love that brings forth more emotion then you could ever expect.
“End Of The Affair” is a seven and a half minute long epic folk track that describes a man thinking about and seeing his lost love in his daily life. He sings about how he can see her moving on, while he is just drifting through life. Heartbreaking and powerful lyrics combined with the strumming of Howard’s guitar make this track his strongest new release yet. Starting off slowly before building into a momentous chorus, “End Of The Affair” speaks to anyone that has suffered a break-up and then must see their former significant other on a daily basis. Pain pulls this track to a whole new level and Howard shows off his lyrical talent as well as his already formidable instrumental skill.
After the momentous single Howard brings it down a notch with “Conrad”. One of the more notable tracks on the album “Conrad”, is a medium tempo song that sounds hopeful and light. It is a refreshing change to the more gloomy tracks on the album and the perfect transition to the final song on the record. “All Is Now Harmed” ends Howard’s sophomore album on an epic high note. With a slow build up that leads to an explosion of guitars and drums, the song is an excellent finish to a darker side of the rising indie folk rocker. I Forget Where We Were is a solid continuation in Howard’s career and will please old fans and new with its moodier outlook on life.
Final Grade: B