on 12 November 2003
There's no other way to describe this fragile debut from one of Britain's most promising singer-songwriters... It is, quite simply, a beautiful record...
There's something thoroughly English about Harcourt's style and delivery, something almost parochial - this is not a bad thing, but a pleasure - Harcourt's music is, for the most part, soft, delicate - imagine a more upbeat Nick Drake, sat at the piano rather than with a guitar, and with richer production, and you might start to get somewhere close to what Harcourt sounds like... Supposedly, he wrote literally hundreds of songs sat in his grandmother's house out in the country before he was "discovered", and you can certainly imagine Ed sat at an old creaky piano, staring out at the English countryside...
Harcourt veers in style from the slow melancholy of "Those Crimson Tears" through to upbeat love songs like "She Fell Into My Arms", and even into vaguely "pop" territory with the likes of "Hanging With The Wrong Crowd" or "Shanghai"... He's at his most interesting though when he touches on the slightly experimental production of the likes of "Beneath The Heart Of Darkness", which builds up before literally collapsing in on itself in a wall of feedback and radio crackle... While that may sound a little self-indulgent, it never seems it, instead holding the attention of the listener for all of it's seven minutes...
On many albums, even those that I enjoy, I often find my fingers stretching for the "skip" button on my CD player to find a favourite track - but this is one album that I can happily start playing and listen to in it's entirety... There is not a weak track to be found...
I bought Here Be Monsters on a whim, knowing nothing about it and having never heard any of the music... Now I can safely say that it would be among my top ten albums of all time... All the friends I've played the album to have been equally enamoured... My advice - check it out now...
on 4 May 2002
I'm always a touch sceptical about these new 'sensitive singer songwriter' types, mostly because they are neither sensitive or in fact any good as songwriters, but this is different, this is amazing. For a full-debut it doesn't get better than this, consistently brilliant and highly addictive, but at the same time very respectable, Harcourt should be the next big thing.
With the stand out being the single 'She Fell into My Arms', most of the tracks are piano-led, ala Ben Folds but with more options. A lot of the album also features a brass section, adding a classy feel to what is already a full line-up. Opening with 'Something in my eye', the album really hits steam come the first chorus of track two, 'God Protect Your Soul' - out of nowhere the album is kicked into life with Harcourt booming "I need to feel the walls around me" and suddenly the mood and tempo of the whole piece has changed and a special talent has arrived. By track four I can picture grown-ups crying at 'Those Crimson Tears', and then two tracks later the whole world will be grooving to 'Apple of my eye' - another fine single. It then gets scary with 'Beneath the heart of darkness', tempos are changed again and eventually, after a good old stomp with 'Shanghai' we settle with 'like only lovers can,' such is the imagination of this recording, listeners will soon find themselves studying and believing every word Harcourt says, this is pretty powerful stuff.
Sceptical? Yes. Intelligent? Extremely. Ed Harcourt deserves to be massive, something tells me that can't be far away.
on 7 February 2004
i bought this album on a whim after reading an interview with him in the paper and now i'm hooked. it's a great "mood" album to put on when you just want to chill out. i'm not sure i could classify it, but if you're into real music with guitars and pianos and feel like hearing someone sing about their good and bad times then i'd recommend you give this a try (after all it's not expensive for a whole cd worth of lovely-ness!)
on 19 September 2002
Stunning - truly stunning. It's rare that I play an entire album from end to end without skipping a track. If it doesn't press my buttons, off it goes. But here, is a rare exception to this rule of thumb. Harcourt, captures just about every nuance and subtlety throughout and takes us through the full gamut of harmony, melody, anguish, loss, pain and joy. This is an album for all occasions. But beware, you could smile and as easily cry. Buy it - I command you. You'll find little else to warm the soul.
on 12 July 2002
"Here Be Monsters" is an amazing mixture of the best music genres that give birth to a unique style. He uses sorts of vocal jazz ("those crimson tears"), easy listening ("like only lovers can", "Wind Through The Trees"), pop ("She Fell Into My Arms"), folk ("Something in my eye") and proper rock n roll ("Shanghai", "Apple of My Eye") to create a style of his own. He achieves creating his own musical atmosphere on everything song especially on "Beneath The Heart Of Darkness". Ed performs every song with soul and honesty. Not only he shows that he is a great singer-songwriter but also a great instrumentalist. His lyrics deliver the goods and don't go round in circles. What I like the most is his honesty as an artist, the kind of honesty that is missing from lots of todays music. Lyrics like 'I need to build a wall around me' on "God Protect Your Soul" 'that's the way I am made I'm afraid' on "Those Crimson Tears" and 'I've reached a low don't you know?' on "Apple of my eye" show the blossoming of a great artist (a musical genius). There are no fillers in this record. I recommend this record to anyone who enjoys good music. Congratulations on doing an excellent record Mr. Harcourt and I hope you do many more. Thanks for showing that artists are humans. I thought I was crazy but "Here Be Monsters" showed me that is ok to 'fall on your knees and beg like a dog'. "Apple Of My Eye" is simply one of the best songs ever written. Amazing, words aren't enough to describe it.
on 19 November 2001
I have just fallen in love with this album, having heard 'she fell into my arms' on the radio, but knowing nothing else of Mr Harcourt or his music.
The last time I was struck so by an album was way back with Jeff Buckle's 'grace'.
Here be monsters has not yet left my stereo, and I've re-discovered the joy of achingly beautiful musical craftsmanship. Buy it if you value your soul.
on 9 November 2003
When exploring the links to things other people have bought on Amazon, i discovered Ed Harcourt. I bought "Here Be Monsters" having heard all of none of his songs.
Now, he is probably one of my favourite artists of all time.
The melodic rock style (as i like to call it) is used to perfection here, and some of the songs bring a tear to your eye.
How predictable. An amazon reviewer giving their beloved album five stars out of five. This time however, I believe I am entirely justified in according full marks to this magnificent record. Quite simply, it's perfect. There are too few superlatives to express just how good this is, but I will endeavour to do so, using as many as I possibly can. It really is great.
What's all the fuss about I hear you cry... What indeed. First things first: the songs. Truly imaginative songwriting like I've not heard in years. Like I've not heard since, well, um, never. Forgive my tender years and uninformed ignorance, but is this or is this not infinitely better than the monotonic dross excreted by the king of songwriters, Bob Dylan? Yes, it most certainly is. The variety is something to be marvelled at. There's jaunty pop froth such as She Fell Into My Arms; there's studied melancholy in the shape of Those Crimson Tears and Birds Fly Backwards; and then, quite brilliantly, songs defying definition, refusing to be pigeonholed, like the second track God Protect Your Soul which starts slowly with a forbidding piano roll and mutates into some fantastic rock opera before slinking away in a hazy calm. And all in the space of five minutes. Just how does he do it?
I for one, have no idea, but it's absolute genius. I only hope his next offering is as good. If it's any better, we may just be about to witness the eight modern wonder of the world. In any case, I'd take Hanging With The Wrong Crowd over some dusty pyramids any day of the week.
on 20 July 2001
This is quite simply a stunning album. Virtually every moment is studied perfection, from the Radiohead-ish opening track 'Something in my Eye' to the understated epic that is 'Beneath the Heart of Darkness'. Ed Harcourt is a sublimely talented man - how else can 'Hanging with the Wrong Crowd' be explained? Beautiful, humorous, both melancholic and uplifting; with this album 'songwriters' like David Gray have been rendered completely and utterly irrelevant. Read no further, just press, 'add to basket'. You won't reget it. And if you don't believe it, man, just listen to 'She Fell into My Arms!'
on 8 July 2001
Ed Harcourt's album 'Here Be Monsters', although the next in a series of albums in the acoustic revolution, manages to be entirely original. It has the soothing tunes of Kings of Convenience in their 'Quiet Is The New Loud' album, combined with some dramatic instrumental backings, the like of which I have never heard. It makes both an excellent chill-out album and one for a more excited mood. The album is perfectly constructed, making it suitable for just lying in bed on a Sunday morning listening to it. Well worth its price.