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Noah And The Whale - Heart Of Nowhere (Album Review)

Monday, 03 June 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

It wasn’t until ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.’ – the lead single from Noah And The Whale’s third studio album ‘Last Night On Earth’ – first hit the airwaves in 2011 that the mainstream took the folk-pop darlings to their hearts.

The band’s early years had already reaped reasonable rewards though, with debut long player 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' achieving an impressive top five UK album chart position.  Follow-up ‘The First Days Of Spring’ was accompanied by a film running the entire length of the album but chart-wise, it didn’t fare quite as well.

Their latest effort, 'Heart Of Nowhere', also has an accompanying (short) film – directed by the band’s multi-talented singer and guitarist Charlie Fink.  It tells the story of a future world where adolescents are ‘quarantined’ to an island within a city, a result of the perceived detrimental effect they were having on society.  This marks a change in songwriting direction for the band, with Fink inspired to write about the end of his own adolescence after returning home to find the first of his closest friends heading towards marriage.

The album begins with the short ‘Introduction’ before launching into the title track. Tom Hobden’s characteristic violin leads the way and punctuates a pleasant folk-tinged tune throughout, with Fink portraying a desire to leave the family home and venture out into the wider world.

The poppy ‘All Through The Night’ takes the tempo up a notch, building in intensity to create an early highlight.  The violin returns for another enjoyable moment in ‘Lifetime’, with a refrain seemingly directed at Fink’s marriage-bound friend. "Are you ready to make that call? It’s gonna be a lifetime," he sings.

‘Silver And Gold’ is another pleasant, radio-friendly track without being remarkable.  The lack of variation in Fink’s monotone vocals is something that will inevitably take its toll on the listener, and this is the first time it becomes apparent.  

A funky beat introduces ‘Still After All These Years’, the song almost reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac from the ‘Rumours’ era, and it also benefits from a delicious but short guitar solo.

'There Will Come A Time’ fades in with those occasionally unexceptional vocals once again but the track, with its distinctive five note falling arpeggio, soon takes a turn for the better when Fink pushes outside of his comfort zone to produce a contender for best track on the album.

‘Now Is Exactly The Time’ attempts to convince the listener to turn from the past but fails to thrill, leaving the message rather tepid.  The album concludes with ‘Not Too Late’, a gently reflective number that, unlikely as it may seem, recalls Lou Reed.

Although apparent on a handful of occasions, the folk element that came to characterise Noah And The Whale seems to have taken a backseat in this latest collection.  You cannot help but feel the band are beginning to evolve, both lyrically and musically, into something more mature.  It will be interesting to see if this – along with Fink’s vocal range – can develop into something vital because the signs are most definitely there.

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