In this socially and politically turbulent society, our thought process is constantly turned towards the notion of an idealistic state of nirvana. Although many artists have tried to display their perfect perception of world peace, many interpretations haven’t inhabited the perfect juxtaposition between fantasy and reality that resonates throughout the latest offering from the two time BRIT Award Winning Singer-Songwriter, Ben Howard.
Noonday Dream is an Indietronica Folk Rock exploration through the ever expanding and ever theorised depiction of nirvana. Through the eyes of an all knowing and all seeing like character, a dreamscape interpretation of a perfect world is presented with running commentary on social and political issues from the standpoint of a citizen oppressed in our over-complicated reality.
The albums strongest element is the impressive instrumental and mixing with the beautiful yet harrowing ambient sound, which has made this record the perfect addition to the calming period of self reflection, as well as enticing the notion of deep philosophical conception and analysis.
Straight out of the gate, ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’ creates a tranquil setting with an undeniable trance-like personality. Ben’s vocal delivery resembles a whisper being carried through a light winter breeze, while it dances around the perfectly constructed psychedelia inspired ambient instrumental. With an opening track featuring so many amazing elements which create such a harmonious atmosphere, its allows a great amount of emphasis to be cast in the wake of the poetic lyrical content, which speaks of a longing for a true sense of peace in the midst of the deterioration of all the facets that make us human. In some instances it can be seen as rather spiritual, with an awakening of a deep struggle to hold on to the true beauty within our dying world.
‘A Boat To an Island, Pt. 2 / Agatha’s Song’ continues the albums spiritual undertones, with a track mainly focused on producing a goose-bump inducing instrumental that is unpredictable yet calm and fluid. The greatest strength lying within the tracks emotionally stabilizing state is the edition of Ben’s haunting vocals, which heightens the more ominous sections to a whole new level, leaving shivers down your spine as the instrumental runs its course to a satisfying conclusion.
Throughout Noonday Dream the message is clear to decipher from its overall tone and within its poetic storytelling, with a voice that is captivating but can overtime become rather monotone in places. Over the course of this ten-track-record you may find its mid-point rather underwhelming or even a little disappointing. Whether it’s due to some tracks not inhabiting the same trance arousing vibes with a deviance from the main musical inspiration, not providing a satisfying climax to heighten the emotional intensity of the story arch, or the usage of tracks to establish a breathing space between sections of the album that can almost feel redundant considering the overall tone of the record.
All in all this latest offering from Ben Howard is a positive one, it is carefully constructed, has a great overall theme and it really does resemble the idea of being in an unshakably vivid daydream. Even with its faults the message of achieving our own personal peace is an ideology so many individuals in this turbulent world stage can really relate to on a multitude of levels, as well as possibly use as a tool for self-reflection as well as looking at the world around us in a more empathetic light.