Noah and the Whale‘s break through album, the sombre and down-beat folk of ‘The First Days of Spring‘ catalogued the break-up of vocalist Charlie Fink and former band member Laura Marling, and it was the fragile honesty on this record, both in sadness and hope, that not only helped me when I was going through a similar situation, but also found its way into the hearts of fans and media alike.
‘Last Night on Earth‘ is a huge departure from ‘The First Days of Spring‘ and shows a band that are not only prepared to take chances musically, but are also ready to divide their fans in the hope of gaining even more commercial success, mainly radio play. First lets comment on the sound, the minimal at times and orchestrated at others of the former album have been replaced by an all over more electronic influence with samples, synths and keyboards often at the forefront rather than ukelele’s, guitars and violins. To add to this Fink’s vocals have started to sound slightly like Bono and his lyrics have taken a new direction with him exclaming on opener ‘Life is Life‘, “…and it feels like his new life can start, and it feels like heaven“, while on first single ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N‘, Fink is happy to spell out life goes on, while stating that as long as you have heart, you’ll get by, which many will know is a huge change from some of the depressing but image inspired lyrics shown on ‘The First Days of Spring‘. This is backed up by the sort of production that seems to be ten a penny in modern chart music, the type of production where everything has been glossed over so it is absolutely perfect but somehow, in doing this, you lose any form of emotion and this album suffers greatly because of this.
Evolution happens with bands, and I’m happy with it, I’d be more upset if a band didn’t evolve but ‘The First Days of Spring‘ summed up a snapshot of my life and for that, it was always going to be a difficult record to follow up. It isn’t that ‘Last Night on Earth‘ is bad, it will still be one of the better albums released this year, but I just don’t feel it has anything to say emotionally or musically that Noah and the Whale haven’t said better with previous releases.