Noah & the Whale – Heart of Nowhere
At one point, Noah & the Whale typified the exploding English folk scene, with their first two albums standing as some of the revival’s archetypal statements. 2011’s Last Night on Earth however, saw the group undergo a major transition, pushing their organic and acoustic instrumentation out of centre frame and introducing increasingly prevalent synthesised and electric tones. If that album saw a band in transition toying with alien sounds, then Heart of Nowhere places them firmly in balance, teasing out the finest sounds from their varied back catalogue to create a new and congruent whole.
Charlie Fink’s diverse songwriting is still as evident as ever, incorporating folk-rock ballade into a somewhat livelier modern pop context. But it’s the strength of the arrangements that makes this the best work Noah & the Whale have done since The First Days of Spring. Softer tracks like One More Night see Fink’s voice soar convincingly over a bed of retro synth swells and chorus-soaked guitar lines filled with conviction. The similar Wild Thing from Last Night felt more like an unfinished concept – but where that album’s songs sounded like first drafts, Heart of Nowhere’s are polished and comfortable. Even more playful tunes like Still After All These Years don’t feel as throwaway as they threaten to.
Noah & the Whale’s poise with their varied instrumental arsenal gives this album the colour that can often feel lacking on folkier records, while the soul of Fink’s songs stops things from becoming over encumbered with variety and spread too thinly. The insatiably likeable introduction the album receives from its marimba-led instrumental that flows straight into the towering violin hook and Arcade Fire-like majesty of the title track hint at a band ready to become the anthem-pedalling spectacle Noah & the Whale were meant to be – something they inch towards with each passing album.
Heart of Nowhere is released on 6th May, but you can pre-order the album here (where you can also see a taster of Charlie Fink’s short film accompanying the album’s release).
Watch the video for There Will Come A Time here: