Music Critic Julia Van Egmond review Ben Howard’s latest single which sees Howard explore new types of storytelling underlined by his familiar guitar tones

Written by Julia van Egmond
Hi! My name is Julia and I am one of Redbrick's music critics. I am especially interested in songs that make a societal / political contribution. My favourite artist is Ben Howard and my favourite song of his is "The Defeat". Have a listen and I hope you enjoy my song selections!
Last updated
Images by Korng Sok

Trigger warning: suicide

‘Crowhurst’s Meme’ is the second single of Ben Howard’s long-awaited fourth album Collections from the Whiteout, expected on 26 March 2021. Excitingly, this album is co-produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Fans of Noonday Dream should love this single as it blends in smoothly with Howard’s last album 

Surprisingly, the song starts with a piano melody but it is only a few seconds later that we hear our familiar heavy electrical guitar playing along

Surprisingly, the song starts with a piano melody but it is only a few seconds later that we hear our familiar heavy electrical guitar playing along. The constant drum rhythm almost makes the track danceable, but Howard’s slow singing and echoing calms the song down. The verses remind most of the latter, heavier half of ‘Boat on an Island on the Wall’, whereas the chorus conveys more of a floating, transcendental feeling. It might not be surprising then that during the chorus Howard sings about his common theme of dreaming: ‘When I wake up / I’m a long way out / When I wake up / Arms around you’.

Although it should not interfere with your enjoyment of the song, the lyrics are truly incomprehensible without knowing the story behind it. Luckily for us, Howard let Rolling Stone know that the song is about Donald Crowhurst. Crowhurst competed in Sunday Times’ yacht race in 1969. For this race, he had to sail around the world as quickly as possible. However, his ship showed signs of sinking and instead of admitting his defeat, he lied about making progress. In reality, he was stuck on sea, alone. His logbook was found after his mental decay unfortunately led to his suicide. In this light, lyrics such as ‘Saccharine party, baby / Laughing and Ah-Hoorah! / Well, that’s a riverbed sleep / What’s this feeling? / And they’ll murder me / If I come back winning’ suddenly start to make sense.

Fans of Noonday Dream will absolutely love this track due to the familiar sounds and the new kind of storytelling Howard explores. However, fans of catchy tunes or more experimental tones might be less enthusiastic.


Crowhurst’s Meme is available now via Island Records

__________________________________________________________________________________________  You Might Also Like:

Album Review: Pharoahe Monch / Th1rt3en – A Magnificent Day for an Exorcism

Trackd: OnlyFans for Music

Live (Stream) Review: The Cinematic Orchestra

EP Review: Taylor Swift – the “dropped your hand while dancing” chapter