Noah & The Whale – Last Night on Earth
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING wallowed in self pity following the break-up of his relationship with Laura Marling to quite brilliant effect on First Days of Spring, Noah & The Whale’s Charlie Fink is rejuvenated to equally dazzling heights on new LP, Last Night on Earth.
What’s more, it marks the continuing evolution of this consistently brilliant band, drawing more on synths and rock arrangements than the folk that got them noticed, or the melancholy that beguiled others.
Last Night on Earth finds Fink and company drawing on a more radio friendly but no less layered sound, which gives rise to gospel moments and shades of both Lou Reed and Brian Eno – with, dare I say, a little Cutting Crew thrown in too.
It’s a more positive album than their sophomore one, yet there are some bittersweet songs, too, which bring a level of poignance – never more so than during the final song, Old Joy, or the beautifully composed piano interlude that is Paradise Stars.
But in the main, this is upbeat stuff as epitomised by opening song Life Is Life… a song about being reborn (“he’s gonna change, gonna change his way”… “sick of being someone he did not admire”) that’s rife with a throbbing synth line, some great percussion values and more shimmering piano arrangements that work hand in hand with the electronics.
Fink, meanwhile, continues to employ his distinct, deep vocals – yet sounds more vibrant during the chorus and is backed up to brilliant effect by a gospel backing towards the end.
From there, Tonight’s The Kind of Night, drops a vaguely disco backdrop around a piano arrangement that flirts outrageously with I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight.
And former single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N hits you with lush, breezy folk pop, a Lou Reed-esque vocal and a chorus that has to rate as one of the best of the year so far. It’s made for singing along to.
Wild Thing, meanwhile, features one of the most disarming guitar riffs on the LP, which comes couched in Eno-esque synth arrangements, and a reflective, borderline melancholy set of lyrics about anger being pushed to extreme lengths.
The glockenspiel-style beats of Give It All Back also give rise to a lovely, nostalgic song about coming-of-age and a long lost summer – and is firm evidence of the band’s shift towards rock – while the feelings of nostalgia are furthered in the heart-warming Just Before We Met, another gem.
Waiting For My Chance To Come drops a folk rock vibe that contains echoes of Tom Petty, The Line trades lush synth patterns with subtle beats and another Lou Reed vocal vibe (think Walk on the Wild Side, and Old Joy rounds things off in atmospheric, reflective fashion complete with gospel backing and disarming piano arrangements that strangely lifts the heart.
In short, Noah & The Whale have crafted another classic. They continue to be one of Britain’s brightest young bands.
Download picks: Life Is Life, L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, Wild Thing, Give It All Back, The Line, Just Before We Met, Paradise Stars