After 8 years out of the spotlight, Damien Rice has emerged from his hidey-hole in Iceland with his 3rd studio album My Favourite Faded Fantasy. Since his mysterious withdrawal from music after platinum selling 9’s release in 2006, Rice has spent so long outside of the public eye that some of us had maybe forgotten about him. So is this a returning album that will grab people’s attention once more, and reach the heights of O (2002) and 9?

In an interview with The Guardian in late October, Rice spoke of how he felt that he was being used by people in the wake of his success, and how he felt pressure to produce the music that people liked rather than the music he wanted to produce. With this release Rice certainly has pushed away from his previous work; delivering an album that has far more of an ethereal feel to it, with the title track My Favourite Faded Fantasy hanging hauntingly in the air. The new release also brings a raw element to Rice’s song writing, with songs such as The Greatest Bastard exhibiting brutally honest lyrics that seemed absent in previous albums, since O and 9 produced a more mainstream sound.

credit: zoo-records
credit: zoo-records

On the subject of the change in sound, My Favourite Faded Fantasy is in some ways a strange album. After numerous listens, although I enjoy the album, I am still frequently unable to recall lyrics or track names. This release seems to work tremendously as atmospheric or background music, and is brilliantly relaxing to listen to whilst focusing on other things. There are of course exceptions to this, as certain tracks tend to stand out more, chiefly The Box and The Greatest Bastard.

So what is it that Damien Rice has put out? Well, it certainly shows an alternative side to Rice’s music, presenting an element of reflection and clear mindedness. This album feels like Rice was able to spend his time away from everything cleansing himself of all the frantic pressure of musical success, allowing him to return 8 years later with an 8 track album that so obviously portrays his new frame of mind.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy may not go on to be Damien Rice’s most successful release, mainly due to the shift in style he has quite purposely employed in order to branch away from his previous more mainstream material. However, this shift is a pleasing progression in Damien Rice’s career, and feels like a fresh start for the artist that became so discontent with the future he was presented back in 2006. Although perhaps not the most memorable album you’ll hear this year, My Favourite Faded Fantasy is definitely worth experiencing just for the relaxing quality Rice’s music possesses.