Review: Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere
Published on May 2nd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
There really isn’t all that much to dislike about Noah and the Whale’s fourth album Heart of Nowhere, unless the resemblance of some of its tracks to U2 (“All Through the Night”, “Silver and Gold”) brings you out in a Bono rash. It all starts promisingly enough when “Introduction” floats in on clacking marimba and gliding cello, but what ensues is largely devoid of anything to get particularly excited about.
Despite the occasional nice lyrical touch such as “Lying with your makeup off / I can see the girl I loved / Dark and brooding, fickle and demure” from “Still After All These Years”, this is a set of very straightforward pop songs, to the point that it’s not really clear what the point is other than serving as an exhibition of one particular, uninspiring flair.
The bitter-sweet, ‘sunset nostalgia’ pop of “Lifetime” lets fly with the kind of dazzling string arrangement that could have been the making of Heart of Nowhere; elsewhere we are served up the sort of cheesy guitar soloing that, say, Rufus Wainwright can get away with on account of there being so much else going on. Here, it just sounds like pastiche.
There’s even an FM radio key change at the end of “Still After All These Years”, which as such should probably be punctuated to “Still? After All These Years??”. Similarly, monotone bass lines can be effective in the right hands, but Noah and the Whale are pushing it a bit in having it as a default setting amidst such unadorned surroundings. “There Will Come a Time” is just utterly unremarkable – forget Anytown, USA, this could be Anyband, NME – while Charlie Fink’s Tim Booth/Jim Kerr vocal is pleasant without ever really stirring.
Closing track “Not Too Late” offers a decent line in comedown folk, Fink belatedly catching the ear with a pleasing drawl of a vocal delivery; but, contrary to its title, it is too little too late. This is competent stuff in terms of craft, but we couldn’t attest to having a whale of a time. (Sorry.)
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!
Heart of Nowhere will be released on Monday through Mercury.
For more information, please visit the official Noah and the Whale website.