Noah And The Whale Last Night On Earth(Mercury Records) Buy it from Insound
5 Years Time, Noah And The Whale’s first single, had ‘one-hit wonder’ written all over it. It barely registered the first time it was released in 2007, but a perfectly-timed summer 2008 release saw it hit the mainstream radio A-list. It ticked all the boxes: catchy to the point of contagion, a whistled lead melody that was infinitely more memorable than any of the lyrics, and something vague about “love, love, love”.
And it probably would be a one-hit wonder, had the band not just released L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N., another track with the same seemingly flash-in-the-pan credentials. But then Noah & The Whale are no flash in the pan. Second album The First Days Of Spring was a hit with the critics, even if it didn’t enjoy the same commercial success. And in its defence, it was a lot more interesting - dare I say unusual - than its largely bland predecessor.
Last Night On Earth marks yet another change in direction for the band, and for that they deserve some credit. In practice, however, it’s a wasted opportunity. In deciding to merge their folky leanings with electronic beats and samples, they’re treading a path well-worn by countless other bands in recent years. It comes across a lot more like hopping on the bandwagon than breaking new ground.
The aforementioned L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. is the only real exception, sticking with the acoustic sound that made their name. It’s a pleasant tune, but from the title onwards it’s somewhat gimmicky. It also bears a striking resemblance to Lola by The Kinks, and in a music industry in which 95% of chart tracks seem to depend on familiar sounds to hook the audience in, it seems a little cheap.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. Parts of Tonight’s The Kind Of Night sound remarkably like You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachmann-Turner Overdrive (which itself borrowed its memorable riff from Baba O’Reilly by The Who). Wild Thing (have I heard that title somewhere?) sounds a bit like The Shadows. We could put all this down to unfortunate coincidence, but it keeps happening: little passages that sound too familiar for comfort.
Even when they are attempting something different, it’s all just a bit tame. When you’ve been treated to the likes of Flying Lotus, Burial and Emeralds for your fix of electronic beats in recent years, things like the bad synth violins on Just Before We Met don’t cut the mustard. Noah And The Whale would have done better to focus on the more organic sound they became quite good at than become just another forgettable crossover act.6 April, 2011 - 11:22 — Joel Stanier