Noah and the Whale
The First Days of Spring


4.5
superb

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
September 29th, 2009 | 41 replies | 3,510 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The cliche album dealing with heartbreak and the slow progression out of grief rarely sounds so beautiful and sincere.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

“This is a song for anyone with a broken heart.”

A slow, pounding drum beat can be heard off in the distance, and The First Days of Spring begins. With this simple, deliberate beat and the entrancing line, “It's the first day of spring/And my life is starting over again,” Noah and the Whale set the tone for this monstrous indie epic. Like most great records, The First Days of Spring is an intricate journey, laden with the sounds of towering mountains, deep, convoluted valleys, and the winding streams in between. A maturation of sorts, The First Days of Spring is a graceful expression of the sadness and growth that accompanies heartbreak.

“Broken hearts are a fickle thing and complicated too
I thought I believed in love but I've never seen it through
Oh I didn't marry the girl I loved
I saw my world cave in, felt like giving up.”


The First Days of Spring can best be described as natural- from the lyrical imagery, to the symphonic accompaniments, and possibly the slow drone of the electric guitar and minimal production. This feature of the album even extends to the album cover, with it’s fuzzy characters placed behind the top of what appears to be wheat, with a dim, blue sky set in the background. The spacious, faltering, and despondent vocals only further this theme, and resonate loud and clear amid a flurry of ornate horns, luxurious strings, and a lonesome guitar. The First Days of Spring give themselves the label of “post-grunge folk,” but even a genre this specific fails to quite grasp what makes them special. While some records keep you coming back for more listens with catchy hooks, or grand climaxes, or spectacular displays of musicianship, it’s hard to credit Noah and the Whale with any of these specific accolades. What got me (well, what gets me every time), was the extraordinary display of emotion that can’t be ignored on The First Days of Spring.

“But like a cut down tree, I will rise again
And I'll be bigger and stronger than ever before.”


Torn between writing a record about heartbreak and the new beginnings that rise from the ashes of said heartbreak, Charlie Fink creates a lush and tender mix between the two. The title track begins with Fink wallowing in self pity, but by the time the closer comes around he’s no longer afraid to say, “Yeah I love with my heart and I hold it in my hands/but you know, my hearts not yours.” The only detraction from the brilliant spectrum of feelings Fink lets us in on is the onslaught of cliches he uses to get there. I realize he’s heartbroken, but I felt that Fink’s lines like, “Still here hoping that one day you may come back,” on the title track, or begging to, “Go back to the start,” take away from the unique feel of this record. Though the whole “heartbreak” thing has been done before, Noah and the Whale makes it sound fresh and renewed.

“This is the last song that I write while you're even on my mind
'Cos it's time to leave those feelings behind
Oh, 'cos blue skies are coming
But I know that it's hard.
I don't think that it's the end
But I know we can't keep going.”


By the time Fink has recovered from his loss of love, I felt like I’ve fallen in love with The First Days of Spring. Everything from the naturalism, to the sorrowful yet relatable heartbreak, to the lavish musical arrangements and the remarkable progression, felt like it was made solely for me. There’s little better feelings than being able to revel in an album that feels so intimate and personal. I forgive The First Days of Spring for the obvious faults, the song that seems slightly out of place (Love of An Orchestra), and the cliches that plague Noah and the Whale. The First Days of Spring, for me, is immensely personal, and I find it difficult to stray too far away from Fink’s tender lines. I found it easy to fall in love with The First Days of Spring, and I can say, without hesitation, that this is my favorite release from a heartbroken artist since Beck’s Sea Changes. Now, I can only hope that The First Days of Spring shows more mercy towards me than the she-woman did who broke Fink’s heart.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
September 29th 2009



19922 Comments


I know this is "unnecessary" by Sputnik's standards, but I found out my friend's mother doesn't have long to live today and
decided to review something sad.

...been absolutely loving this, so it seemed like a good fit.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

Waior
September 29th 2009



11445 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Nice review. I love you for it.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 29th 2009



10306 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's cool, i got bored re-reading caleb's

still need to get into this!

Digging: Literature - Chorus

SeaAnemone
September 29th 2009



19922 Comments


thanks caleb! sorry- I didn't mean to steal any of your thunder I loved your review too.

YouAreMySilence
September 29th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Nice review, great album.
Not as good as I thought it was to begin with, but still great.

Waior
September 29th 2009



11445 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Steal my thunder? Oh hush up. All attention on this album is good attention!

SeaAnemone
September 29th 2009



19922 Comments


Yes, well that's a given!

Zip
September 30th 2009



5312 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whoa I'm seeing some 5's I don't know if I'm ready to take that step

Waior
September 30th 2009



11445 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I took it. It was legitimately an anti-depressant for me.

Zip
September 30th 2009



5312 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Geez teenagers and their depression

STOP SHOUTING!
September 30th 2009



631 Comments


Nice, thoughtful review. Their debut sounded a bit too pleased with itself, but might get this.

SeaAnemone
September 30th 2009



19922 Comments


I couldn't help myself... this miiiight wear off but right now it feels like a definite 5.

Douglas
September 30th 2009



9090 Comments


Definitely have to get this now, hope things go well for your friends mum

Digging: James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

SharkEthic
September 30th 2009



582 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For me, this is Album of the Year...i LOVE every moment of it!

Skimaskcheck
September 30th 2009



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty much what Dougie said ^.

I absolutely despise 5 Years Time off their other one which prevented me getting this, but now you and Waior are on 5's i think i should.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 30th 2009



23800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hmm, I listened to this because of Caleb's review but I can't seem to get into it that much. Needs a relisten I think, the 5s are popping up everywhere for this album.

Waior
October 1st 2009



11445 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Listening to this again, it's perfect. I love 'Love of an Orchestra', I like the mood it gives randomly through the album.

SeaAnemone
October 1st 2009



19922 Comments


I'm liking the change of heart to the "5" Caleb... it did it for me too, there was like a week straight where I listened to little but this, and it's still as strong as ever.

Waior
October 1st 2009



11445 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

To be honest, it was initially a 5 but I wanted to make sure it didn't wear off.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2009



23800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm listening to this again right now and it's already looking like more than a 3.5 on second listen. Probably not a 5 for me but we'll see. Maybe if it were the first days of spring where I was (Vancouver) and not the first days of rainy, miserable hell, I'd like this more. I need some bleak black metal or something to go with this wheather.



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