Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

My Broken Heart

Review Of Noah & The Whale's First Days Of Spring

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceIt figures that of all the English folk-pop that has been such a staple of my musical diet over the last couple years, the most commercially successful – Noah & The Whale – would be my least favourite. That’s a very relative statement, however, as I still like the quartet alright. As their debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, proved they can write a catchy tune or two but I found their whimsical approach to be a bit lacking in the substance department. I much preferred the sardonic wit of Emmy The Great and emotional resonance of Laura Marling, both of them former Whale collaborators.

And it’s Marling who plays a key role on Noah & The Whale’s second album First Days Of Spring, though she’s nowhere to be found on the actual recording. While it may seem like indie tabloid fodder, the fact that she and Noah frontman Charlie Fink were romantically involved and that the relationship ended last year is key to understanding this record – on the debut, Marling’s voice buoyed the record but on the follow-up, it’s her ghost that gives it weight. Spring is a break-up record through and through, and not one overly concerned with dressing things up in metaphor. Fink is not an overly gifted wordsmith, preferring plainly stated lyrics and delivering them with his equally unfancy croak of a voice and in this instance the directness with which Fink addresses Marling with his lyrics is almost uncomfortable, like eavesdropping on an intensely personal conversation. Yet you can’t not listen and in doing so, you can’t not feel his pain.

Musically, Spring shows the band making tremendous strides. The jaunty barroom folk-pop of Peaceful has been replaced with an expansive, cinematic sound that’s appropriately slow, sad and stately and given to orchestral swells or noisy skronks as the situation demands. It’s a risky approach for the band, basically abandoning the approach that brought them their success, but in strictly artistic measures it’s an unqualified success. Spring makes Noah & The Whale a much more interesting band and Fink has turned his shortcomings into strengths, crafting a record that resonates truly and honestly with anyone who has ever had their heart broken.

First Days Of Spring was released in the UK at the end of August and will be out in North America come October 6. It will come packaged with a DVD with a 45-minute short film tied in to the album but not, apparently, having anything to do with Fink and Marling’s relationship and, from the looks of the trailer, not awful. Nice production values, anyways. The band will be in North America for a short tour in October which will wrap on October 31 at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “The First Days Of Spring”
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Twelves remix)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Yacht remix)
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies”
Trailer: The First Days Of Spring
MySpace: Noah & The Whale

LAist has an interview with Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar. Their debut Reservoir seems to have been released in every possible combination of independently, on a label, digitally, physically, as an import, what have you, but come October 13 it’ll be officially available domestically in North America. So if you missed one of the other million chances to get a copy of this wonderful record, you are now plumb out of excuses.

The St. Louis Tribune interviews Frightened Rabbit.

Stuff talks to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine. I’ve been saying that her debut Lungs doesn’t get a domestic release until October 13 but that may just be for the US – as was pointed out to me, it’s already available domestically in Canada. Oh who are we kidding – if you cared, you’d have downloaded it by now.

Editors have released a video for the first single from their forthcoming album In This Light & On This Evening, out October 13. And no, they were not kidding when they said they were going synthy on this record.

Video: Editors – “Papillon”

A couple of streams of new albums out now/soon from British acts coming to town in the next little while. London outfit The Rifles are really going after – and hitting – that Jam/mod vibe on their new record The Great Escape, out today. They’re at the Horseshoe on September 28.

MP3: The Rifles – “The Great Escape”
MP3: The Rifles – “The General”
MP3: The Rifles – “Romeo & Julie” (live)
Video: The Rifles – “The Great Escape”
Video: The Rifles – “The General”
Stream: The Rifles / The Great Escape

The Big Pink’s debut A Brief History Of Love isn’t out till next week, but is also available to stream now. See them at Lee’s Palace on November 29.

Stream: The Big Pink / A Brief History Of Love

The Quietus talks to Johnny Marr and The Cribs about their new record Ignore The Ignorant as well as Marr’s time with The Smiths. Further, The Guardian gets Marr to interview his former label boss Geoff Travis of Rough Trade.

Further with the Smiths, Marr’s former bandmate Andy Rourke was in town this past week as DJ for some TIFF parties – eye got an interview with the former Smiths bassist while Toronto Life overheard a briefer, more amusing conversation during his actual DJ set. And of course, Morrissey has taken umbrage with some of the stuff Rourke said in the eye interview. Mike Joyce presently has no comment on any of the above.

Oh yeah, that Smiths reunion is right around the corner. I can smell it.

By : Frank Yang at 8:33 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. Fawaz says:

    This made me chuckle: “Oh who are we kidding – if you cared, you’d have downloaded it by now.”

  2. Alicia says:

    Hey Frank, when I click your links to any CDs streaming at Spinner, it takes me to the Polaris Prize CD streams. For example, today I really, really wanted to listen to the new The Big Pink album, but when I clicked it K’Naan came up. Is there something I’m missing?

  3. Frank Yang says:

    ah, shit. there’s a whole geography/domain thing that spinner does to force people to the sites for their countries, but when they have different content assigned to the same links it’s kinda bullshit. I will let the people I know at spinner that this is bullshit. sorry.

  4. Bruce says:

    Unrelated to anything in today’s post, but for any of your local readers who may not have heard, the third season of Beautiful Noise is now (finally) being broadcast on Sun TV, Saturdays at 8 pm. (This is the series of shows that were taped in May of 2008.) A couple have aired already, not sure which ones, but I think My Morning Jacket were on this past weekend. They’ll likely air repeats once they’ve gone through the cycle, though.

  5. stalevar says:

    were Plastiscines announced for Wrongbar yesterday? didn’t see them

  6. Frank Yang says:

    no, there was some misleading PR out there but it seems they’re only playing the New York show of the tour.

  7. juepucta says:

    Unrelated but maybe of your interest Frank: Dappled Cities (you might have seen them play with Figurines) are giving away their 06 album on the Dangerbird website.

    I hadn’t listened to that one before and i am digging it.