After a four-year gap, award winning artist Ben Howard is due to release his third album, Noonday Dream,  this Friday, 1st June. After providing us with two albums filled to the brim with gorgeous acoustic and indie sounds, Noonday Dream kicks things up a notch with a new, alternative electronic vibe.

The album title itself speaks volumes about the faraway and psychedelic tracks that grace this work of art – an appropriate way to describe Howard’s latest work, and you will soon find out why. Consisting of ten tracks overall, each one bares a thought provoking title and oozes with extra-terrestrial vibes due to a mixture of the oh so familiar acoustic guitar, Howard’s undeniable smooth tone on top of electronic, ambient sounds.

It seems to be a quite a leap for Howard when regarding his two previous albums released in 2011 and 2014. Due to the folksy and indie nature of tracks such as “Everything” and “I Forgot Where We Were”, the unusual synth sounds and background noise infiltrating his familiar guitar and voice came somewhat as a surprise. As did the inclusion of the forty second instrumental track entitled “All Down The Mines (Interlude)” that came midway through the album. However, it cements the fact that this is not just an album, but an artistic listening experience. Strange and unique but hey, it’s 2018 – anything goes.

There is a danger within ambient, down-tempo music of not being able to find originality between tracks, however this is not a problem found within Noonday Dream. Howard has managed to create something that is constantly pleasing to the ears and touches upon all areas; from instrumental to lyrical, slow to high tempo. This can be seen in the acute differences between tracks such as “Nica Libres at Dusk” and “A Boat to an Island On The Wall”.  It’s definitely a showcase of his fluidity and his flexibility as an artist. Whilst exploring the unique, what is really admirable about this album is the sing-a-long aspects that still remain. Not only can we focus on Howard’s lyrical skills, but be escorted away to another world through sounds and Howard’s tone.

Harbouring details such as layered, harmonic vocals, ambient background noise and warped instrumental sounds, the whole album provides a soothing vibe and incredible depth. It’s an album that begs for a crackling wood fire, a dimly lit room and incense burning as the cool summer breeze rolls in from an open window. A perfect scene only made flawless by Noonday Dream as the soundtrack.

Although an acquired taste, the distinctive styling and detailed tracks really reflect the hard work that went into making this album, and being produced by Ben Howard himself makes this masterpiece even more admirable. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and will be given the love it deserves when performed live as Howard and his band begin their tour on Friday 1st June, when Noonday Dream is due to be released. It’s one not to be missed.

Written by: Charlotte Niblett