Noah and the Whale - Heart of Nowhere

by Greg Spencer Rating:7.5 Release Date:2013-05-06

Noah and the Whale are back with their fourth album and it's one of real vibrancy. Punctuated by slick guitar and basslines, it's a release which suggests the band are maturing. By the end of the record you get the feeling the band have grown considerably since 2011's Last Night on Earth.

Frontman Charlie Fink is as effervescent yet dour-sounding as ever. However, on this record it feels like there's some real substance to what Fink's sings. There are glimmers of genuine emotion and feeling on the majority of the tracks, which gives the album an underlying honesty. Take the track 'One More Night': Fink speaks directly to an ex perhaps, someone who "got married too young". In essence, it doesn't really matter who or what the song is about, it could just be conceptual and not be about anyone in particular, but Fink takes us on a journey and we stay captivated.

The same goes for the title track. With a guest appearance from Anna Calvi, it's a great way to get the album started and the orchestral backdrop marries together well with the band's solid rhythm section. Calvi delivers a sterling vocal performance as you'd expect. 'Still After All These Years' delivers the mid-tempo basslines and exquisite guitar licks you become accustomed to after about 10 minutes of listening to this band.

The downside to the record is really just that it doesn't feel like the band have taken many risks or done anything too 'out there'. They've kept it safe on a musical level. This a band who will still appeal to the Radio 2 listener since the middle-of-the-road indie genre is pretty accessible to anyone. It would have been great for the band to have just done a couple of tracks that were totally off-kilter, which would have surprised everybody.

Overall, Heart of Nowhere is full of honesty and real emotion from a band that has probably just coasted along up until now. Whether this album will majorly boost their popularity remains to be seen but, right up to the final track, Charlie Fink opens his heart and that's something to applaud.

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