A cartoonish record sporting an equally cartoonish record cover, Journey To The Centre of Yourself from Swedish project H! is an often superfluous, if not entirely honest release that pushes the boundaries of pop-rock. One-man band Howard Beard’s autobiographical musical release is as self-analytical as it is a vehicle to entertain and educate. Journey To The Centre of Yourself is one man’s journey through wildly influential and emotional periods in his life, culminating in a collection of songs that sport a highly animated tone.
In looking at the track listing and cover for H!’s release, Beard clearly breaks up the album’s trajectory in six distinct periods of his life, as told from his (somewhat stilted) perspective. Beard’s ballad-like arrangements and emotionally charged vocals are like many other traditional European power tracks, evoking a bombastic feeling that sometimes feels close to a sinister undercurrent to them, as if H! is a project still possessed by Beard’s former demons. Fighting against light and dark is certainly a prevalent theme in Journey To The Centre of Yourself, but it goes deeper than what is simply Beard’s inner feelings – it’s as if the darkness within our narrator still exists, but is managed by a new voice who has established much more positive boundaries.
Overall, H!’s purpose may be to entertain and inform, but one can take away quite a bit more than the old “it could happen to you” adage. The truth is, the particular events contained within Beard’s albums may happen to no one at all – but it behooves one to hear an interesting case study.