Is this one of the most beautiful records of the year or one of the most depressing? Well, a bit of both in truth. Noah And The Whale’s sophomore effort is a break-up album plain and true and one that wears its shattered heart on its snot-drizzled sleeve. Song titles like My Broken Heart and I Have Nothing do exactly what they say on the tin, but the group’s saving grace are the theatrics, strings and underlying belief in euphoria. Yes, a first listen might have you contemplating hari kari, but this record is a definite grower…
However, The First Days Of Spring isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is. Noah And The Whale are trying to emulate Sigur Ros with their high emotion and haunting lyrical content and melody – but the quality of their tracks aren’t quite as all-encompassing and thrilling as the Icelandic quartet. Singer Charlie Fink has also picked up the same annoying trait of talking through his songs rather than singing them a la Chris Martin.
The album begins with four tracks of woe-is-me content where Fink goes on about failing to marry the girl he loves and how he hopes they’ll get back together – so far, so weepy. But then things take an unexpected turn with an instrumental break which sweeps you up in its triumphant arms and whirls you around – the group don’t shy away from grand arrangements. Alas, the reprise is all too brief before it’s back to depressed Charlie singing about sleeping with strangers (Stranger) and how this is definitely the last song he’s going to write while he’s in love with you (new single Blue Skies). The latter part of the album contains more hope, but this isn’t one to listen to on a Monday. On repeat however, you realise it starts to become annoyingly lovely.
Following on from debut long-player Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, Noah And The Whale have taken strides muscially but seem a tad stunted emotionally on this record – woe can only carry you so far and perhaps a sprinkling of the magic contained on Five Years Time wouldn’t have gone amiss. Noah And The Whale have also produced a film to accompany the album – watch, listen, pout.