Noah and the Whale: Last Night on Earth

It’s here!!! Noah and the Whale’s third album Last Night on Earth.

I don’t think I can explain my attraction to the band. What I can tell you is that it was songs like “5 Years Time” and “The First Day of Spring” that drew me in. I was in for a surprise with this album from the moment I put it on.

Tracklist

  1. Life is Life
  2. Tonight’s the Kind of Night
  3. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.
  4. Wild Thing
  5. Give it All Back
  6. Just Me Before We Met
  7. Paradise Stars
  8. Waiting for My Chance to Come
  9. The Line
  10. Old Joy

The album opens with three tracks that speak to the glum, 80’s girl in me. “Life is Life” reminds me of a U2 song, although I’m not sure right now which. “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” is a more upbeat track, which sounds like it could be the music to scenes of Rocky (That was a compliment, if you were not sure). “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” was not too much to my liking, probably because the song was carried through by the chorus (a human chorus, that is)  singing along to the chorus (the lyrical chorus, this time), which I think is passe.

The first gem of the album was “Give It All Back.” The track opens with a xylophone theme that permeates the entire song. The track is a perfect dance-to or feel-good, something you’d wanna put on at the start of a road trip. It ends strong with the lyrics “I’d give it all back just to do it again / Turn back time, be with my friends / Tonight.” Well, who wouldn’t?

I think tracks 6, 7, and 8 should be discussed as a unit. While “Just Me Before We Met” is a gentle, foot-tapping rock tune with stellar violin accents, “Paradise Stars” is a quiet instrumental, and “Waiting for My Chance to Come” is a nice head-bopping song. The reason I think they go so well together is because the faint romantic theme in “Just Me Before We Met” carries over perfectly into “Paradise Stars.” If in the former, you can imagine a couple laughing their asses off at stupid high school photos, in the former you can imagine the same couple lying on the floor, exhausted from laughing and just happy to be together. And when the album resumes its upbeat quality with “Waiting for My Chance to Come,” it feels as if you’ve come full circle thematically, as Fink sings about how, “it’s hard to feel like, you’re worth something in this life.” And it is.

The glass piano that opens “The Line” reminds me of Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough,” although Noah and the Whale obviously take the music in a different direction. It seems to me that the lyrics were a lot more melancholy than the vocals deliver.

The album closes with “Old Joy,” which in some parts might sound like early Coldplay to the inexperienced ear. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the song very much and feel like the album is stronger without it.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like very much, it was that the vocals were not all that… well, all that. More than once, Fink sounds like Chris Martin, who I adore, but only when singing behind Coldplay music. In other words, I kind of miss Fink from “2 Atoms in a Molecule.” I liked it better when he sounded like he just wanted to have fun and could care less what other people thought.

One other thing, the album is a lot less folksy than what I would have expected from Noah and the Whale. Not that it’s a bad thing, just that it’s something that you ought to be aware of. After all, bands have personality, and if Noah and the Whale’s personality is revealed in songs like “5 Years Time” and “Love of an Orchestra,” then that personality is definitely missing in this album.

Final thoughts

$7.99 on iTunes for the whole album seems to me like too much money for tracks you might not listen to. The decisive factor here, I think, will be whether you find it better to spend $3.96 + tax to get 4 tracks that you will love for sure, or spend about twice that to get the whole album. I would say, keep your other $4 and just get my essentials list.

Essential Last Night on Earth

  • Give It All Back (3:11)
  • Just Me Before We Met (3:43)
  • Paradise Stars (1:35)
  • Waiting for My Chance to Come (3:01)
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