Noah and the Whale’s music has taken a dramatic change since their lovable, naive debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, and the sombre yet beautiful second album The First Days Of Spring, which documented Charlie Fink (the lead singer)’s break up with Laura Marling… but don’t get me started on that love triangle.*
This album takes influences from Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and older artists (so if you like it, go look them up for nostalgia’s sake) yet still being refreshing enough to secure them a semi-headline spot at Reading Festival (NME tent, Friday), which, honestly, seems like an unmissable performance on the horizon. If you want more proof, just check out their Glastonbury or Radio One’s Big Weekend sets.
Last Night On Earth is catchy enough for new fans to listen to without feeling overwhelmed (unlike so many albums where layer upon layer of musical instruments can make it impossible to make out what the lyrics or melodies are), whilst also appealing to fans who have followed the story of Laura and Charlie’s relationship, and his inevitable heartbreak, and this album almost provides a breath of fresh air from the heavy mood of The First Days Of Spring. The album opens your eyes to the possibilities that change can bring.
The whole album gives a strong vibe of an ache to be out exploring the world, perfect for a summer soundtrack whilst staring out of a train window or blasting the album through the stereo of the car on a summer day. When writing the lyrics, Charlie wanted the album to be easy enough to ‘lose yourself’ in, and become one of the characters within the songs. This has definitely been achieved.
The only slight downfall with the album is that the first half is so brilliant, that the second can leave you feeling slightly underwhelmed. With slower rhythms and even completely instrumental tracks, you can be left feeling let down by the sudden shift from upbeat to bittersweet, almost reminiscent of their second album (and not in a good way). Perhaps this is the change in tone from Paradise Stars creeping in, or maybe the album is tiring to listen to all at once, or perhaps this change in tone is the perfect ending for Last Night On Earth. I guess it’s down to personal opinion.
For their second album, Noah and the Whale also released a short film accompanying the album (of the same title), and I have a sneaky suspicion that they’ll do something similar for this album too. So keep a look out!
(*Okay, I have one more thing to say on this issue: Marcus Mumford is a dickhead.)