Album Review: Noah and the Whale – Heart Of Nowhere




The video for Heart Of Nowhere’s first single, “There Will Come a Time”, is a sort-of trailer for the album’s accompanying short film, which Noah & the Whale frontman Charlie Fink recently said the band plans to screen at their upcoming shows. Opening text reads, “Sometime not far from now, it was decided that adolescents were detrimental to a well-functioning society. Teenagers were quarantined onto an island within the city, colloquially known as teenland.” Thus, the tone is set and the theme declared for this English band’s fourth studio album.

It’s a coming-of-age record, indeed, with counsel for today’s youth offered among the 10 tracks (see “Now Is Exactly the Time” with sweet advice like, “If you can, try and get to know your parents well”). Fink’s unique and endearing voice has oft been (in somewhat of an overstatement) compared to Lou Reed’s and his band’s music deemed Springsteenian. Both associations are actually applicable here, as the live recording process was kind to his vocal performance and the vignettes scattered throughout feel akin to Bruce’s work.

Although the four-piece’s most recent release falls more in the style of their strings-driven 2009 album The First Days of Spring than 2011’s Last Night on Earth, which dabbled in ‘80s synths, we’re given a strong dose of the band’s calculated, impeccable indie-pop with “There Will Come a Time”, which strives to be a discography-connecting number that also plays to the aforementioned theme. Similarly, the attention-demanding string section on “Lifetime” balances well with a subdued chorus and “Still After All These Years” begs for a drive with the windows down.

While the latter track is easy listening at its finest, when Fink sings, “I think still after all these years, something still burns,” on the chorus, seven tracks in, we’re left feeling less like teens trapped on an island and more like parents who have beaten the odds and stayed together. Similar disruptions that take us away from “teenland” are the records’ main fault, though it’s largely successful as a sunny summer album.

Essential Tracks: “There Will Come a Time”, “Lifetime”