Noah and the Whale
The First Days of Spring


4.5
superb

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (109 Reviews)
August 29th, 2009 | 439 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Heartbreak snags Noah and the Whale, creating a soothing follow-up for those still grieving after 'For Emma, Forever Ago'.

What the hell happened to Charlie Fink? Just over a year ago, him and his folk troupe Noah and the Whale released 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down', a quirky and peppy indie-folk record that's biggest strength was it's kittenish and cute qualities (even if the record as a whole was a bit satirically melancholic). This doesn't ring true with their latest full-length 'The First Days of Spring'. Instead of opening the album with Fink playfully crooning "like two atoms in a molecule, separately combined" over a jangly acoustic guitar line, you're treated with a downcast and mellow soundscape of post-rock-esque atmosphere while Fink somberly and brokenheartedly moans "I do believe that everyone has one chance to f--k up their lives". Can you detect a change of heart? The entire album plays like a soft, despondent breath; it's no longer charmingly odd or bouncy, it's broken and depressed. The apparent dejectedness (and subsequent hopefulness) of 'The First Days of Spring', however, makes for an impeccable album -- an album that manages to be simultaneously depressed and optimistic; a healing album of sorts.

Those looking for the outlandish allure found on their debut will be most at home with (but not really) 'Love of an Orchestra' as it remains the only true upbeat song with it's cackling choirs and clackity drums. The rest of the album, however, operates under a different sound. The album is hugely symphonic (see any of the instrumentals) and employs an eclectic range of instruments to reach it's respective climaxes. I am aware that post-indie isn't a genre but 'The First Days of Spring' better make it one; there's simply no other way to describe it (we also need more subgenres for better arguments on the internet, so win/win). 'The First Days of Spring' is positively celestial: it's led to Sigur Ros-like crescendos with it's climaxing strings and disparaging vocal delivery while drawn-out electric guitars moan through vaguely dirtied up clean tones; it engulfs the listener in near-Disney classical instrumentals and evokes personal experience through it's emotionally anguished atmosphere and lyricism.

Harmonizing horns, riveting choirs and pulsing string sections are just one half of the album -- the other is Fink's disconsolate heartbreak, a topic that is essentially related to by the majority of human population. While Noah and the Whale's latest is universally solid, - no matter what your stance - I encourage you to discover this album when it aligns with personal despondency of any sort for a sole reason: a lot of people never understand break-up records until that specific moment arises (case in point, Bon Iver for me). When an album is so dependent on it's luck pulling your heartstrings, it doesn't make any sense out of context. That's not to say that this isn't for casual, level-headed listeners -- you don't have to be a hapless, meth addict who was recently abandoned by a snake-wrestling woman named Benji to enjoy this, because the music is beautiful regardless of pretense. Yet what pushes 'The First Days of Spring' above and beyond is it's broken-down charisma and inarguable sincerity; it's an extremely personal album. A mostly sarcastic suggestion for any women reading this (none): start a serious and immeasurably loving relationship with a musician and then break up with him when things can't get any better because people seem to write the best songs when heartbroken. Need evidence? Take a listen.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Album stream: http://www.myspace.com/noahandthewhale

Album is dangerously close to a 5 for me but that's not objective, is it now? It's just what I needed to get out of my review slump too. I don't know what to compare this too, could somebody help me with some recs?

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2009


7025 Comments


"post-indie"
Haha I'm sold. Will be checking this out.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2009


15083 Comments


pitchfork gave their other album a 2.6 so TOTAL AVOID

Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Their first album is like a 3.5 but this is amazing. Read some other reviews online for this one if you need convincing.

Also, this is like the complete opposite of their debut.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2009


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Really good review. I'll probably check this out.

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

bastard
August 29th 2009


3435 Comments


i wasn't on sputnik enough to notice your reviews, but you do write some good ones. This is pretty cool.

Zip
August 29th 2009


5312 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Do you write like two a day?

Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

"Do you write like two a day?" Haha. This is the final review in my summer reviewing, I'm going back to 4-a-month for a long while now.

"you do write some good ones. This is pretty cool." I appreciate it. Did you listen? If so, pop up a rating!

"Really good review. I'll probably check this out." Thanks, and good.

bastard
August 29th 2009


3435 Comments


nah, but i haven't listened to anything non-rap in months, i should probably do something about that.

Kiran
Emeritus
August 29th 2009


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

very interesting, getting this straight away. great review.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2009


7427 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review. i'll probably get this if i like the stream

Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Yes, please listen to this. I would like this to get some attention, it's definitely in my top 5 of the year.

PanasonicYouth
August 29th 2009


7412 Comments


stop typecasting, fool

Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

post-indie, fool

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2009


15083 Comments


what the fuck is post-indie haha

also which one should i get this or peacefully the something whatever

Waior
August 29th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Definitely this.

mmm wine


Kiran
Emeritus
August 30th 2009


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the vocals surprised me in a good way

Knott-
Emeritus
August 30th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Would I like this Caleb

I'm guessing yes

Knott-
Emeritus
August 30th 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

oh shit there's a stream why don't i just listen to that

Waior
August 30th 2009


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

"the vocals surprised me in a good way" Well, good!

"oh shit there's a stream why don't i just listen to that" yes, LISTEN TO THE STREAM, FOLKS.



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