Fans of Belle & Sebastian, Arcade Fire and Bill Callahan may well enjoy this disc.
Jon Lusk 2008-08-08
In case you were wondering, this London-based indie-folk foursome's name is an obscure cinematic reference too convoluted and pretentious to go into here. Apparently, Noah And The Whale don't like being labelled as 'twee', but that really is the first word that will come into your head when you hear the ukulele, recorder and whistling refrain of their catchy hit ditty, 5 Years Time. Even so, the superficial chirpiness of some of their music is leavened by some ambitious brass and string arrangements and enough lyrical depth and ambiguity to make Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down more than the collection of simple love songs it initially seems to be.
The band were originally most noteworthy for having launched alt. folk singer Laura Marling on her solo career. By the time they released this debut album, she was no longer a group member, although her backing vocals haunt much of it – a definite bonus – making you wonder whether she'll continue to moonlight with them.
There’s only room for one star in most bands, and that would be lead singer and songwriter Charlie Fink. With a voice best described as an acquired taste, hovering somewhere out over the mid-Atlantic, he's both the most distinctive thing about Noah And The Whale and the most difficult thing to get used to. But he does have a certain way with a tune. Early single Shape Of My Heart has a nagging melody, while both Give A little Love, the near-epic title track and the reflective closer Hold My Hand As I'm Lowered are similarly sturdy constructions which almost seem at odds with the band’s
rather lightweight image. Fans of Belle & Sebastian, Arcade Fire and Bill Callahan may well enjoy this disc.