Review: Last Night on Earth by Noah and the Whale
by John Lockett
It happens all the time.
Musicians come out with a new album that is completely different from what fans expect, and all hell breaks loose. The musicians explain that it is simply their way of growing as artists. Finding new sounds, new ways of expression. All the while, fans are not afraid to unleash battle cries of betrayal.
This goes back to when Bob Dylan went electric, and more recently, when Iron & Wine traded in banjos and slide guitar for electric noise and horns.
Now it’s Noah and the Whale’s turn. NATW released their latest album, Last Night on Earth, on March 15, three years after their last, The First Days of Spring (2009). From the very beginning, it appears to be a vast departure from their earlier work. Gone are the violin-driven, acoustic indie-folk ballads they were known for. Instead, we’re given layers upon layers of synth, drum machines and…a gospel choir. Sounds like a bad 80s album.
But trust me, it’s good.
The record clocks in at just over 33 minutes, but it’s half an hour of pure bliss packed with eclectic beats, melodies and beautiful music. It’s teeming with poetic references to Bukowski, while paying homage to the godfather of punk, Lou Reed. There are also undertones of Leonard Cohen thrown in the mix as well.
All in all, Last Night on Earth is the perfect next step in the evolution of NATW. While it outwardly seems like everything has changed, a lot stays the same. It retains elements NATW fans love. There are a couple songs featuring violin and those catchy guitar riffs. In fact, most of the songs are quite similar to their predecessors and could have easily appeared on their other albums.
The first single, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.,” has energy unlike anything else they’ve done. The next single, “Wild Thing,” feels like classic NATW with a hint of electricity.
Get a copy today! It’s only $7.99 in the iTunes Store. In the meantime, enjoy this video.