Album Review: Ed Harcourt – Furnaces (Polydor Records, 2016)

by Paige Heath, contributor

Furnaces is the seventh solo album from Ed Harcourt, a singer-songwriter, musician, producer and writer from Wimbledon, London. Described as a “songwriter’s songwriter”, Harcourt has worked with the likes of Paloma Faith, Lana Del Rey, James Bay and Sam Smith, among others, but is yet to have an album hit the top 30. It doesn’t take that huge a stretch of the imagination to see why.

Some of the songs in this album are either just a bit bass-heavy and murky, or overly orchestral, with not much other substance. Others were so slow to start that the listener grows bored within about thirty seconds. The indie/alternative feel of the album is both a blessing and a curse at times.

source: The Line of Best Fit
source: The Line of Best Fit

Of Furnaces, Harcourt said that “[he] wanted to make a record people can cry, f**k and fight to”. There are a few tracks that feel like they’re missing a deeper, rock feel – something with a little more soul and passion – if they are to really evoke that emotional reaction that Ed was aiming for. Unfortunately, he just missed the mark with several of these songs.

That said, there are still a few songs in the album that act as real redeemers. The title track, for one, had a much stronger beat and richer sound. ‘There is a Light Below’, ‘Loup Garou’ and even ‘Occupational Hazard’ all had more life to them, like ‘Furnaces’, making the album as a whole much more enjoyable.

source: Rock Feedback
source: Rock Feedback

The fact that most of the instruments you hear played throughout the album were played by Ed himself is fascinating and really showcases his talent as a musician, but despite this the album simply doesn’t live up to its potential. Arguably, the instruments at times take away from the lyrics of the songs, and one can’t help but feel as though the lyrics are fading into the background. Add to this the overpowering bass, and you have a recipe for an unavoidably disappointing album.

Overall, there are definitely four or five tracks in this album which listeners could add to their playlists and listen to regularly. The rest of the twelve tracks leave the listener either a bit disappointed or bored.

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