In the Post #22: Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring

By on Monday, 7th September 2009 at 12:00 pm

Noah and the Whale - First Days of Spring (side cover)You may best remember London quartet, Noah and the Whale, for their annoyingly over-played, but alas, incredibly popular ‘5 Years Time’. The happy vibes of this track generally encapsulated Noah and the Whale’s music well. Their golden indie-folk brimmed with with sunny sunshine. They were cheery, they were fun.

If you were expecting this from record number 2, I’m the bearer of bad news. Sadly, frontman Charlie Fink, has since split with his girlfriend – the singer, Laura Marling. Alas, Noah and the Whale’s second album, ‘The First Days of Spring’, has been stripped of all glowing happiness. Quite contrastingly, the new records jumps deep inside the moping brain of a broken hearted man, detailing from start to finish the stabbing pain of losing a love. Noah and the Whale have successfully managed in grabbing hold of the range of emotions experienced throughout a devastating break-up, and have turned them into an art-form – a beautiful art-form which is as heartbreaking musically as the story behind the album.

There’s no need to read deeply into the lyrics. Fink’s words are completely and utterly face-value. Cliché broken heart narrative is spread all over ‘The First Days of Spring’. But it doesn’t matter. As it’s honest and it’s true, and importantly, so many of us will be able to relate to them. “And I’m still here hoping, that one day you may come back”, Fink gently sings during the opening title track. Complimentary guitars and strings gently weep in the distance, before exploding into a crescendo of emotion come the end.

Track two, ‘Our Window’, is stripped back and lays the frontman’s emotions bare to all. Fink sings rather timidly, as if it is almost painful for him to let out such intense feelings vocally. The story concept running through the record evidently flows into the musical content here, as ‘Our Window’ cleverly previews the coming optimism of forthcoming track ‘Blue Skies’.

‘The First Days of Spring’ certainly continues in taking the listener on a roller-coaster of emotions. ‘I Have Nothing’ showcases desperation and longing (“Come back to me my darling”). Meanwhile, ‘Stranger’ brings the mood down a little further, as Fink melancholy recalls sleeping “with a stranger for the first time since you’ve gone”. However, the latter end of the album joyously swings towards a renewed sense of positivity. The upbeat and optimistic ‘Love of an Orchestra’ (“So now in my deepest sorrow, there’s no need for despair”) is kicked off by a choir as if it were a West End musical, while the gorgeous Blue Skies offers a beautiful flash of hope.”This is the last song that I’ll write, while still in love with you” Charlie sings, as rousing choirs and tinkling pianos enhance the new found hope of actually being able to move forward. The album comes to a close, however, with ‘My Door is Always Open’. A gentle number, Fink closes the record positively proclaiming “but now I’m free from all your pain”. Sung over a mere acoustic, the song ultimately builds up into a joyous harmony which radiates warmth and, most importantly of all, recovery.

To conclude, Noah and the Whale are back with a touching masterpiece, which is intriguing as the music itself is quite stripped back and mellow. Charlie Fink’s lyricism is perhaps the key instrument throughout the album, truly driving ‘The First Days of Spring’ into a black hole of epic emotions.”This is a song for anyone with a broken heart”, Charlie mopes during ‘Blue Skies’. I take that statement further. This is an album for anyone with, or who has had a broken heart.

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Noah and the Whale‘s First Days of Spring is out now. Order it from Amazon.

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[…] which has also turned out the likes of Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale (whose new album we just happened to review last week) over the past couple of years. Following on from the success of their first three E.Ps, next month […]

[…] Sainthood 7) Silversun Pickups – Swoon Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring (read the review) 9) Frank Turner – Poetry of the Deed 10) Metric – […]

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