Album Review: Noah and the Whale, Last Night on Earth

Previously, with Noah and the Whale… ‘5 Years Time’ attracted more attention than Charlie Sheen at confession, ‘Shape of my heart’ was more Indie than pink skinny jeans and ‘Blue Skies’ was as melancholic as Romeo growing a side parting, dying it black and asking Juliet if she could reapply his mascara.

This year: Their new album Last Night on Earth has enough pop to scare off The Coca-cola Company.

Yes, Belle and Sebastian meet Miike Snow as Noah and the Whale add uplifting beats and synthesizers to their Indie-pop sound. The new album combines the innocence of 2008 hit Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down with the melancholic lyrics of 2009’s The First Days of Spring. The result is an ensemble of uplifting tracks set to top the charts either side of the Atlantic.

Currently touring Europe and set to tour the States in May, lead vocalist Charlie Fink recently stated in an interview with Gigwise that the theme of the album is ‘change and people making a change in their life’. The new album builds on the themes of their previous albums; fear of change, of estranged relationships and anxieties over getting older. Consequently, their newly upbeat tone is an evolution from the insular break-up tale of The First Days of Spring to a series of unspecified love stories.

The band are keen to emphasise the introspective nature of their album as ‘ten tracks that look through the pane, beyond reflection’; yet, in fact the songs are written from a third person’s perspective: as if Lead vocalist Charlie Fink was advising a younger self.

These songs guide teenage lovers with a positive sound that avoids coming across as too ‘preachy’.

The album’s opener ‘Life is Life’ reveals NATW’s intentions of releasing themselves to a pop public. They have opted to reduce the orchestral intensity for a more simplified sound that condenses each track to individual pop singles. With their first single from the album ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ reaching number 14 in the UK Singles Chart and the album itself reaching number 8 in the album chart it appears this change is paying off.

This is not to say the album is plain.

Listening to the album is like being guided through a series of pop-rock influences. The album’s fifth track ‘Give it all Back’, for example, includes an eighties backdrop which wouldn’t feel out of place in an album by The Cure; whilst, various folk-rock influences can be heard within the heavy bass line of ‘Waiting for My Chance to Come’. Still, Tom Hobden’s violin reasserts that characteristic sound that first popularised NATW in ‘Just Me Before We Met’.

The album as a whole flitters from one genre to the next more often than an episode of The One Show.

What’s intriguing is the ending. As we reach the final song ‘Old Joy’ the tempo slows down to create a straightforward song that echoes the band’s reflective sound of old. The only difference is a synthetic trance that blurs across the track.

It is unclear what the band’s future sound will be. What is clear is that this album is set to take Noah and the Whale to a new level of popularity. Will this affect their music? Only time will tell.