Album Review: I Forgot Where We Were
By Chandler Robertson, Contributing Writer
“I Forgot Where We Were” – Ben Howard – 7.7/10
London born singer-songwriter Ben Howard’s sophomore effort, “I Forgot Where We Were” is transformative, but it is not the end of his transformation. It’s the messy part in the middle where the transformation is taking place. The sound of his debut, most comparable to Ed Sheeran’s debut, has been warped into something reminiscent of Bon Iver’s second album, with flavors of U2 circa Achtung Baby or Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Howard is finding himself, and the path for the rest of his career, on this album, and doing a good job of it. Howard immediately swaps the summery shining tone of his debut, “Every Kingdom,” and opens with “Small Things” which is brooding and reflective.
The album remains primarily electric, knocking the listener quickly off the anticipated track of another folk offering from Howard. Gone are the percussive guitar slaps of the last album, and feeling of fullness to each track. Instead, he takes a page from the book of The xx, utilizing the open space between notes and riffs beautifully, adding even more bite to the notes he is playing. He experiments with the music on the album, doing a lot of jamming, which can, at times, be tedious. Howard is a talented enough guitarist to keep it interesting in most instances, but some of the songs lose punch in their length.
Lyrically, Howard is a poet, spinning fantastic imagery in a collection of reflections. These songs are meditations that lead to a revelation. Howard is wading through complicated subjects, whether it’s the deterioration of the world around him, heartbreak or a creeping loss of meaning.
These songs are tied together so perfectly on the sonic level, the rippling guitar and rolling drums creating a canvass on which Howard can question freely. If Every Kingdom was the blissful summer day, “I Forgot Where We Were” is the evening thunderstorm. Its aftermath will be something entirely different from where things started, and the process of changing that atmosphere is something fantastic to watch. He separates himself gracefully from his debut, moving in a much more exciting direction. Highlights of the Album – “Small Things,” “End of the Affair,” “Conrad,” and “All Is Now Harmed.”