John Howard and the Night Mail: John Howard and the Night Mail

John Howard and the Night Mail offers more lush, sophisticated chamber pop from the unlikeliest of comeback artists.

John Howard and the Night Mail

John Howard and the Night Mail

Label: Tapete
US Release Date: 2015-09-04
UK Release Date: 2015-08-21
Label website

Since his early 21st century rediscovery, British singer-songwriter John Howard has become profoundly prolific, releasing nearly an album a year. Not a bad run for an artist who, prior to 2005's The Dangerous Hours, had only one album proper, 1975's chamber pop masterpiece Kid in a Big World, to his name. But with that album's rediscovery, the floodgates were opened and compilations of archival recordings began to appear alongside a torrent of new releases, all steeped in richly observed singer-songwriter material unfairly ignored upon initial release.

Building on an already established stylistic template, John Howard and the Night Mail adheres largely to the aesthetics spelled out on Kid. Theatrical, often Bowie-esque vocals and prominent piano lines dominate the album, calling to mind the pre-punk golden age of slightly left-of-center singer-songwriters. Proving himself to have lost none of the lyrical wit for which he was celebrated on Kid, Howard's songs are densely structured first-person narratives that eschew standard pop song material in favor of more nuanced, often esoteric observations.

For those who like their pop on the more sophisticated end of the spectrum, John Howard continues to prove himself an unfairly neglected genius of the genre who, some forty years later, is finally getting the chance to share what we all missed out on in the intervening years. John Howard and the Night Mail is nothing short of a triumph.


Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock helped to create the modern horror genre, the modern thriller, and the modern black comedy. He changed film, even as he was inventing new ways to approach it. Stay tuned through October as we present our collection of essays on the Master of Suspense.


'Psycho': The Mother of All Horrors

Psycho stands out not only for being one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, it is also one of his most influential. It has been a template and source material for an almost endless succession of later horror films, making it appropriate to identify it as the mother of all horror films.

Francesc Quilis

The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti (By the Book)

With discussions of characters like Leon Ray Livingston (a.k.a. "A-No. 1"), credited with consolidating the entire system of hobo communication in the 1910s, and Kathy Zuckerman, better known as the surf icon "Gidget", Susan A. Phillips' lavishly illustrated The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, excerpted here from Yale University Press, tells stories of small moments that collectively build into broad statements about power, memory, landscape, and history itself.

Susan A. Phillips

The 10 Best Indie Pop Albums of 2009

Indie pop in 2009 was about all young energy and autumnal melancholy, about the rush you feel when you first hear an exciting new band, and the bittersweet feeling you get when your favorite band calls it quits.

Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.