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Blake Solomon 03/13/11 10:24 AM

Noah and the Whale - Last Night on Earth
 
Noah and the WhaleLast Night on Earth
Record Label: Mercury Records
Release Date: March 7, 2011


There’s something very ominous about naming your third album Last Night on Earth. Fans of Charlie Fink and his sometimes-dreary, sometimes-cheery folk outfit Noah and the Whale could interpret such a title as a sign of the band’s forthcoming demise. Or maybe it’s just a title; just an outlook on what we’ll do when that fateful evening comes. But to me, our Last Night on Earth is meant to be a happy one. And on album centerpiece “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.,” it’s clear Fink feels the same way. Atop meandering guitar and a cutesy backing choir, he muses, “On my last night on Earth / I won’t look to the sky / Just breathe in the air / And blink in the light.” What will happen will. And what didn’t isn’t worth a thought. Not exactly Eureka!-type sentiments, but they are still important ones to remember.

While fans of the band’s previous albums might find fault in Last Night on Earth’s less cluttered, electronica-tinged songwriting, it is Fink’s simple songs and flexible voice that carry the most enjoyment. On the uplifting Brit-pop of “Life is Life” we hear, “Gonna change his ways / And it feels like his new life can start / And it feels like Heaven.” Now if that isn’t a wonderful way to start a record, I don’t know what is. Especially after some of the downers the band has penned previously (“2 Atoms in a Molecule” or “My Door Is Always Open”, for example).

But this is Fink we’re talking about. His life through song is never perfect. However, now there are songs like “Old Joy:” a slow, piano-heavy ballad that is both sad and extremely optimistic. That song contains both the line, “Tall buildings and a wife won’t be enough for me,” and also, “There is more in the world to be found than dreams.” There’s a strength in Fink’s voice now, one that seems to imply that he’s not only growing up but growing better. “Old Joy” is one of those songs that closes one door and opens another. Another introspective, Interpol-esque track, “Wild Thing” is an intelligent upswing for the group. Rather than the simple woe-is-me-isms that we became enamored with on The First Days of Spring, “Wild Thing” uses storytelling enriched with beautiful imagery (“There’s eyes behind the curtains and there’s ears below the floor / Cracks inside the ceiling and there’s shadows at the door”). We’re lead through like a novel rather than being told how to feel.

So although Last Night on Earth is a new, and for the most part, completely different type of Noah and the Whale album, it is still a worthy statement. Short and mostly bittersweet, it mixes the upbeat (“Just Before We Met”) with somber electronic fare (“The Line”) without sacrificing cohesion. And while the band is transforming its sound, it’s not altogether clear as to where the next album will go. But with Fink at the helm, we can be sure it will put real life through the magnifying glass and teach us all, one way or another, a lesson.


RIYL: I'm From Barcelona, The Decemberists, a less theatrical Arcade Fire


Friends and familywww.myspace.com/noahandthewhale

simplejack 03/13/11 12:06 PM

I like this and TFDOS in two different ways, as they represent two different states of mind, this is more joyful and with a more sing-like-it's-the-last-song-you-will-ever-sing and live-like-it's-the-last-day-you-will-ever-live attitude and Charlie's voice is incredible, didn't know it would've fit in a more electronic-based record.

withgreetings 03/13/11 12:24 PM

I love this band and I love all their records! :)

thesollopsist 03/13/11 01:04 PM

I was really disappointeed by this.

Memphis 03/13/11 02:25 PM

I'll give it another listen, but so far, it's really boring. Perhaps, i was expecting something else...

kennedyAM 03/13/11 04:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Memphis (Post 86496312)
I'll give it another listen, but so far, it's really boring. Perhaps, i was expecting something else...

I agree. Not as good as The First Days of Spring.

Paulb-182 03/14/11 03:08 AM

Love this album.

blinkme 03/14/11 03:19 AM

The three albums feel like a transition of a relationship to me. It's nice to hear some optimistic material from these guys for a change. Solid album and nice review.

MorningStar10 03/14/11 03:52 AM

Great album and progression from 'first days of spring', 'Give it all back' is a standout tune.

OnaedInSpace 03/14/11 04:27 AM

lol at the less theatrical Arcade Fire in the RIYL

stonecoldfox 03/14/11 09:19 AM

I can't wait to hear this, but I'm holding out for the physical release tomorrow.

milli626 03/14/11 09:49 AM

just recently discovered this band. i cant stop listening.

pleasedontpanic 03/14/11 01:34 PM

I absolutely love this album. I feel like it's a more coherent piece than The First Day of Spring, though TFDOS has my favorite songs by them.

apresnuledeluge 03/14/11 02:10 PM

I'll be checking this out as soon as possible. Their previous effort was a huge sleeper for me.

whiterussian 03/14/11 03:41 PM

How does the album compare to the single? (lifegoeson)
I wasn't very much into it.

Prufrock 03/14/11 03:50 PM

Call me a philistine, but in my opinion Peaceful the World Lays Me Down is their best album, followed by First Days of Spring, followed by Last Night on Earth. I think Charlie's voice sounds more honest on PTWLMD and less contrived (I'm sure I'm probably being harsh). I'm yet to be wowed by this release. I'm hoping it will come. I'm keeping an open mind; it certainly could be a grower. I actually thought Paradise Stars is Arcade Fire-esque. I have a lot of time for Noah and the Whale, so I'm hoping LNOE will start to make more of an impression on me. Perhaps I'm being biased because I'm not the biggest fan of synthesizers.

Blake Solomon 03/14/11 06:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whiterussian (Post 86550572)
How does the album compare to the single? (lifegoeson)
I wasn't very much into it.

That is a fairly good representation of the upbeat songs on the album, which is about 70% of the whole thing.

AdamChildress 03/18/11 02:05 AM

I enjoy this album.

alexander r 03/19/11 11:48 AM

One of the best indie folker out there. Glad things are going so well for them.

Mark Renkens 03/20/11 10:35 PM

I hope they play these songs better live, it just sounds like an album that could truly open up on stage.