Monday, April 11, 2011
Album Review: Noah & The Whale - Last Night on Earth (4/5)
Last Night on Earth, the third album from British indie-folk band Noah and the Whale is my first exposure to the band, however I have heard of them before, primarily due to former-band member Laura Marling who released her much-acclaimed second album I Speak Because I Can last year. Their sound is predominantly sculpted with an expected rootsy, folksy bearing but there’s also something more interesting here beneath the heavy layer of folk-rock—such there heavy indulging in corpulent electronic flourishes—which surprisingly isn’t burdensome—but feels at home in a set like this.
Opening track “Life is Life” is great. ‘80s inspired electronic undertones pulse through the wall of rich synths and clobbering beats. I love the layered vocal on the chorus, it sounds a little anthemic too. Next up is “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” a return to the norm—prominent drum beats, with seeping piano chords—there’s also layers of permeating synths that saturate the backdrop, further indulging in that electronic edge. The sound on here reminds me a little of something I think The Killers would do if they went folk. Popular lead single “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” has a if-The-Killers-went-folk vibe to it too--Discharging paltry melodies, arresting tuneful guitar chords and disquieting scattering drum lines.
“Wild Thing” is interesting—very downbeat, pondering with dejected drum beats and rough guitars beneath the progressive, dispirited layer spacey soundscapes and soft electronic pulsing. Charlie Fink’s off-beat vocal works the song well—implanting a sense of awkwardness that seems to fit the grim atmospherics of the song. More upbeat is “Give it All Back” which acquits an uplifting, almost ‘80s influenced theme, with its escalating melody.
“Just Before We Met” is another interesting number; prominent country-tinged violins, poignant piano chords, sharp guitar chords and an acuminous drum-backing. It’s the rootsiest they sound on here. Following is “Paradise Stars” an 89 second instrumental piece, highlighting a distinctive sense of subtlety in atmosphere, showcasing grand piano chords and strings—until the subtlety is washed away by the illusive drum-fair of “Waiting for My Change to Come,” another track that implements the violin, a nice touch I think, reining in that rootsy-feel again.
The album comes to a close with “The Line” a downbeat number, subtle synth-beats and warbling electronic pulsing and “Old Joy” an uplifting piano-ballad with heavy choir voices backing Fink boisterous vocal. Weirdly but expectedly there’s a random burst of electronic piercing, which I don’t think is needed on here.
Last Night on Earth expands nicely on the bands indie-rock sound, indulging in electronic, more pop-studded flourishes and while that could have sounded overbearing—it works really well, although I'm not in love it, it sounds a little depleted as whole, however even with that it’s still one of the best indie-rock albums I’ve heard this year, so far.
Best: Life is Life, L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N., Wild Thing, Just Before We Met, Give it All Back, Tonight is the Kind of Night