REVIEW | ‘How Many Times’: Understated and Heart-Breaking In Equal Measure

‘How Many Times’ achieves a rare feat; capturing in just ten tracks, all the complexities and dimensions of heart-ache


Esther Rose’s ‘How Many Times’ isn’t explicitly a concept album but it does strongly revolve around one theme: heart-ache. The album begins with the title track; a subtly heart-wrenching tale about the mundanity of the everyday (“Standing in the shower til the heat runs out / Trash is on the corner where I put it out / Pills to take the pain / Take it all away / Dinner and a movie, scrape the bowl / I’m never hungry and I’m never full”). Like the best tracks on the album it uses disarmingly specific details to paint in broad brush strokes; emoting universal sentiments of longing, despair and resignation.

Many of the album’s best moments are emotionally devastating. ‘When You Go”s depiction of loss is so harrowing and crippling, it feels at though the lyrics could be not just about a lost relationship, but the loss of life of a loved one. On the song, Rose is so you accustomed to the company of her ex-partner, that she stills feels like they’re in the other room. As the song progresses and she comes to grips with the reality that they’re gone, a sense of desperation and longing takes hold, asking – even begging – repeatedly “Can I come with you? / I want to go with you”. ‘Songs Remain’ is equally heart-wrenching, but for different reasons. On the album highlight, Rose sings of the saddest type of heartbreak: not one filled with anger or bitterness, but one filled with love and weary, reluctant acceptance. ‘Songs Remain’ makes clear that, for whatever reason, while the relationship couldn’t work out, all the love from it remains. Across it’s four minutes, Rose sings of the part of her that will “live on” in her ex and admits “I am glad it was you who broke my heart”. The following – and final – track continues in this vain of weary resignation as Rose sings of carrying on with her day-to-day tasks, but feeling like an irreplaceable part of her identity is missing (“A lock without a key”). It’s in these moments, where Rose sings of existing, but not living, of coming to terms with her new reality, that the album reaches it’s most affecting moments. ‘How Many Times’ achieves a rare feat; it captures in just ten tracks, all the complexities and dimensions of heart-ache and, is simultaneously self-aware enough to never become tiresome of self-pitying. At times even Rose seems tired of her own perpetual heart-ache (“I’m getting pretty tired of me and my bad moods”), but this short album is captivating enough to stop listeners getting tired.


Score: 7.5

Best Tracks: How Many Times, When You Go, Songs Remain, Are You Out There, Without You

Worst Tracks: N/A (they’re all good)

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