Ben Howard

I Forget Where We Were

9 out of 10
Joel Frieders | October 13, 2014

I got almost all the way through this album with a dull case of the disinteresteds before a specific moment fucking thwapped me in the fucking throat and made me pay the fuck attention and start the fucker over.

At the 4:44 mark of the seventh track, "End of the Affair", I almost threw up.

It felt like the first time I heard the revamped version of Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" off of the live album The Dance. When Lindsay Buckingham starts fucking bleating like a lost goat, I fucking lose it. The goosebumps cover every centimeter of all sides of the reason I love music. Even thinking about that version of that song kills me.

Ben Howard made his introduction into my ear holes by seeming rather tame, until it wasn't. And when I finally realized it wasn't, I had to rinse off the assumptions and dip my ears back into I Forget Where We Were knowing that I was going to get a boner towards the end.

Knowing that a boner was on the way made the listening experience all the more chilling. A boner on the way. A boner this way come. Here comes a boner. A boner, it's coming.

Ben Howard isn't a guy I can ever remember being into, but the disinterested look of his presentation is what initially convinced me to snag the promo when it was offered. But it was this same disinterest that left me sort of uninterested, so when my interest was piqued while I wasn't really interested, I became reinterested and I can admit now that I'm beyond interested. I think I'm a bit obsessed.

The entire I Forget Where We Were album has the feel of a project written on an acoustic in a high school bathroom, where the natural reverb of the piss covered tiles bounces back just the perfect amount of lilt, sure, but it makes his voice sound fucking insanely awesome. This dude sounds like he's being courted around the drab English countryside in the popemobile; simultaneously broadcasting his introverted sass and staring off into the cloudy beyond. During certain songs there's almost that borky We Were Promised Jetpacks deliciousness that makes him sound adorable, yet as desperate as a pantsless college student wearing a bucket atop his head as he drunkenly stumbles aimlessly through a rain soaked industrial district after midnight, holding nothing but a raw porkchop and a spool of hot pink tennis racket twine.

Scattered throughout I Forget Where We Were are these little slices of holy shit that pull your wandering attention back in, almost forcing you to start the songs over to make sure you haven't missed anything else. It's amazing how often those holy shits appear, on nearly every song I can pick a few out, but after repeated administrations of the album to my face holes, the places I didn't hear them before are where they're most likely hiding in plain listen.

Take the bend of the guitar at 0:35 on "Rivers In Your Mouth": it's quick, it's sudden, but you spend the rest of the song waiting for it to happen again, because it's fucking delicious.

The crashing together of the two guitars at around the 3:30 mark on the title track, "I Forgot Where We Were", it almost pulls at your chest while pushing against your chin. It's like making love to a high school wrestling coach; WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT?

Just imagining the picking hand on the track "In Dreams" is enough to send a guitar player/superfan of guitar players into an orgasmic tizzy. Dude plays the guitar like a fucking drum, and it's gorgeous. The subtle addition of strings behind the track makes this entire song one where if you listen with your eyes closed people will think you're having a seizure because of where it takes you and how it contorts your face as it progresses.

At about the 2:00 mark on "She Treats Me Well" the harmonizing vocals make me want to fucking hug myself into my coat it's so fucking perfect. All throughout this song you hear that percussive, almost thumb slapping, sensuality that Ben Howard sounds so fucking in charge of. And with a meter as lazy as this song's, it's super balls impressive that it can hold the attention so strictly. But at 4:20, this syncopative percussion shit just takes the fuck off. If you're a steering wheel slapper while driving, this will RUIN your fucking steering wheel. PERF.

"Conrad" is one of the more perfect examples of what Ben Howard sounds like in my opinion. A simple guitar lick dripping in fucking delicious reverb, paired with a voice so pained it's somehow heartwarming, Ben Howard takes the idea of being alone and makes it feel completely welcome. I couldn't sum up Ben's sound any better than this, and rather than rambling on and on about how fucking hell yes this dude is, I would much rather ask you to just listen to "Conrad" from start to finish when you're in your perfect place.

Having never felt the feelings Ben Howard forced me to feel, I feel it necessary to force you to feel how Ben Howard made me feel by describing the feelings Ben Howard forced me to feel, so that maybe you can feel those feelings too my friends.


Tom says: I was balls deep into this album when Joel asked me to review his review. I'd like to officially second everything Joel just said above, seal it in an envelope with a wax stamp of a monogrammed B for boner and pour the rest of said wax on my nipples. Could you imagine what would happen if Damien Rice fronted Junip in your dreams? Ben Howard is what would happen and wetness would follow.