Noah and the Whale: The First Days of Spring (Shock)

 |   |  <1 min read

Noah and the Whale: Stranger
Noah and the Whale: The First Days of Spring (Shock)

Beauty is not a quality that popular music (ie pop, rock, r'n'b, indie-rock or whatever) places much store in: yet from the Velvet Underground through Mazzy Star and the early Cowboy Junkies to the Fleet Foxes, or from Eno to the landscape of guitars in Explosions in the Sky, there has been beauty aplenty.

Beauty need not be sentimental or cringe-inducing.

So when a record company announces their band (in this case this London quartet) will release "the most beautiful record of the year" the stakes are either very high or the claim is somewhat absurd.

This might more correctly be considered the separation album of the year as it charts within a documentary arc (there is an accompanying film with early copies apparently) a relationship breakdown which is told through aching ballads, barely whispered and world weary vocals (think Bon Iver, Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy) and is in places given gentle orchestration or sonic ambience (think Richard Hawley).

This is a concept album (in the best possible meaning of the phrase) and also has two sections entitled Instrumental I and Instrumental II.

There are some marvelously evocative songs here (the cello and horn-coloured My Broken Heart with its repeated line "I'll be lonely") and yes, there is beauty -- and sadness -- here.

But as much as anything else it is in the elevating, almost filmic music.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

From She Loves You and She's a Mod, pop music has always rung to the affirmation of "yeah yeah yeah" -- and to hear this Auckland band work it so well on their newly minted classic single... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MARILYN by ANDRE de DIENES: Little girl heading for the big time

MARILYN by ANDRE de DIENES: Little girl heading for the big time

For those who came of age after her death, Marilyn Monroe belongs to that generation of American males whose idea of cool was smoking a pipe and reading Playboy. That seems pretty tame to those... > Read more

Climie Fisher: Here today and gone . . .

Climie Fisher: Here today and gone . . .

Climie -- or maybe it was Fisher -- almost had me. The conversation was, in the late Eighties, about why so many pop duos were turning up with little or no live experience, and why record companies... > Read more