Ever since he released his highly popular and critically-acclaimed debut album 'Every Kingdom' in 2011, singer and songwriter Ben Howard has always been a curious name circling on the new music scene. While clearly making a huge commercial success from day one, he has since spent the subsequent decade trying to brush off his squeaky clean and super polished sound in an attempt to gather a bit more kudos from the less radio-friendly crowds. And while this has worked in portions throughout his work so far, his fourth full-length 'Collections From The Whiteout' is probably the most focused record we have seen from him to date.
While his previously offerings were always still trying to keep one foot firmly in the mainstream, packing themselves with a handful of singles destined for chart success, 'Collections From The Whiteout' seems far less concerned with such matters and simply sees him experiment with his broad and dexterous sound throughout. And although this does make for a smooth and captivating ride throughout, it does feel like it is missing that exciting Ben Howard flair from time to time, creating a listen that is enjoyable enough, but not one of the more enticing releases we have seen from him.
In all, 'Collections From The Whiteout' is a firm and solid continuation of his sound, and fills itself with plenty of interesting and captivating ideas to keep its head above board. It feels as though he is yearning to break free from his past successes and create something that will see him break the mould all over again, but this just isn't quite there yet.