Noah and the Whale - Last Night on Earth

by Dan Clay Rating:8 Release Date:2011-03-07

Charlie Fink's homage to Noah Baumbach's debut film continues with a third album some thought might not appear after 2009's rather bleak, heartbroken The First Days of Spring. What surprises most is not that Fink has mended his heart, but discovered a range of instrumentation that might intrigue many while perhaps disappointing the folk fans who've now turned to Mumford in the mean time.

Out goes the ukulele, acoustic guitar and mandolin and, much like R.E.M. since the early 90s, a whole new sound emerges. Synths, electronica and a lusher backdrop form the basis of many songs as Fink wakes from maudlin misery in a very bright light indeed. If you're looking for a decent precursor to Coldplay's new album, then look no further.

Very much starting as it means to go on, opener 'Life is Life' gives us an electronic background which makes good use of its gospel-sounding backing. The equally poppy 'Tonight's the Kind of Night' continues in a similar vein with its sparky, soulful sound as Fink declares "Tonight's the kind of night where everything could change." Continuing with the catchy acronym '

, Fink's love of The Kinks certainly comes to the fore on a near perfect companion piece to 'Lola' with a sing-a-long chorus that no doubt provides a pleasing album highlight.

Suddenly the Coldplay within emerges. '

not only continues this sound but provides the album's strongest song. "There is no sweeter sound, on the King's Road I'm bound," Fink sings on a typically upbeat track.

However, unlike the band's previous album which delved into the dark heart of love, here the softer, quieter moments quell the fun. Whereas 'Paradise Stars' short soundtrack feel doesn't outstay its welcome at just over a minute, closing tracks 'The Line' and 'Old Joy' add little to the proceedings except remind that this new direction is a very welcome one indeed.

It certainly doesn't sound like Fink's thinking about his last night on earth, not unless he's going down dancing, but you'd do well to do the same.

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