Sound — 9
I am very surprised to be the first to review this, some 2 years after the album was released. This is not only because of the time span, but because this is an absolutely magnificent album. Following on from their impressive debut "Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down" Noah & The Whale take quite a drastic turn in their sound. Here, frontman Charlie Fink uses a light electric guitar sound throughout, a complete departure from the almost entirely acoustic first album. This becomes apparent in the opening song, which shares the same name as the album. After some heartfelt lyrics and slow building, the song erupts into a beautifully melodic crescendo which sets up the rest of the album perfectly. The sound throughout is minimalistic, yet huge at times, a real achievement for such a relatively young band. Pianos are more frequent here than in the first album, and the drumming is considerably softer, graceful allowing the flowing melodies to take the lead. One of the more distinctive elements of the Noah & The Whale sound is the use of strings, and on this album they are used to greater effect than ever, conveying joy and some points, sorrow at others and at the album's most eclectic moments, both.
Lyrics — 9
The album documents Fink's break-up with equally-talented singer-songwriter Laura Marling, in a brutally honest and heartfelt fashion. There is no doubting Fink's integrity here, he writes what he feels, perhaps most explicitly in "Stranger" where he evokes some particularly strong images; "I'm a fox, trapped in the headlights". For those fearing that perhaps this marked the end of the joyous lyrics seen in their debut, there is optimism in the aptly-named "Blue Skies" and "My Door Is Always Open". The lyrics comply wonderfully with the music, though understandably, some people may be put off by Fink's love-it-or-loathe-it vocal delivery.
Overall Impression — 10
Having since heard Noah And The Whale's third album, I can say that this is without doubt their best to date both lyrically and musically. Very rarely do I listen to an album and think I am listening to a genuine masterpiece, but this is without doubt the defining album for anyone attempting to move on from someone they love. The album, consisting of 11 songs, is seemingly split into three stages; the first four songs dealing with the depression of a broken heart, the second stage being a transition, and the final four songs taking a more optimistic "moving on" tone. Beautiful throughout, at times wonderfully moving and ultimately brilliant, this album is without doubt a must-own.