Posted by Samantha Hatfield on 07/12 at 08:38 AM
With their third studio album Last Night on Earth, Noah and the Whale has produced an album with luscious hints of nostalgia and beautiful messages tucked within the narrative verses of the 10-track album that can at times get bogged down in the throwback style. The album opens with “Life is Life,” a track that is strikingly different in style to the bands usual aesthetic. With synth-beats opening the song, the catchy ballad fills listeners with the optimism that resides in the rest of the album.
With styling that will remind listeners of Tom Petty and Lou Reed, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” tells the story of Lisa “a rock ‘n’ roll survivor with pendulum hips” who imparts her words of wisdom. The bridge of the song contains one of the most freeing sentiments in the album, “On my last night on earth, I won’t look to the sky just breathe in the air and blink in the light.” There is something about the lyric that has a great sense of abandon.
“Wild Thing” is another strong track on the album that screams of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” or Petty’s “American Girl.” Here, there is something comforting about Noah and the Whale’s visitation of narrative songwriting. The stories of the album talk of blue-jeaned adolescents, coming of age tales, summers in suburbia and all the key ‘80s themes of Americana and rock and roll. The album is a balancing act of old and new. While the band pays homage to the greats, they also blend in some sound that keeps the album current. However, there are points where the delicate balance is thrown off, and the music ends up stuck in the past with nothing to pull it into the present.
While “Give It All Back” is a good song—upbeat and inspiring—it is the story that could describe any current rock star or former dreamer who began his musical career playing rock music in his parents garage (a la “Army” by Ben Folds Five and “In the Garage” by Weezer). The disappointing thing with this album is that the musical math should have added up. Noah and the Whale had a winning combination by taking classic rock styling and mixing in some current elements. Every song has a quality that pulls the listener in, but the stale moments are what take away from the overall effect of the album.
“Just Me Before We Met” is one of the uncomfortably stuffy songs in the album. It reflects on how relationships change us from our former selves by adapting our aspirations and sense of who we are. Undoubtedly, it’s an interesting subject matter to take on. However, the song gets lost in a mix heavy with bass, synth, and a persistent violin melody. While the track takes off for a brief moment, it gets muddled in repetitive lyrical and musical composition. “Waiting For My Chance to Come” is another track that bears a striking resemblance to songs from some of the greats, but it lacks a twist. Noah and the Whale seemed to attach very little of their own vision to the track, and with lyrics like, “just looking for a way out of here, yeah a way to see this whole life all disappear. Take a gamble in your heart it’ll lead you through the dark,” Noah and the Whale has left too many traces of other artists all over their work. Taking inspiration here and there is to be expected but that is with the understanding that a piece of the artist will be what truly shines through on a track.
Overall, there is a happiness and appreciation of the life lived that is evident throughout the album. The title Last Night on Earth very beautifully describes the feeling that is present within the album. The effect and intention of Last Night on Earth was there but just shy of where it should have been to completely hit the mark.
You can purchase Last Night on Earth at Amazon.com. Click here.
Author: Samantha Hatfield
Bio: Samantha is currently a senior double majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Theater. She is a perfectionist with a penchant for writing, video production and music. Ever since seeing Weezer live at the then “Tweeter” Center at the ripe old age of 12, she has been hooked on live music and developed a voracious appetite for new albums and bands. Some of Samantha’s favorite bands include: Bon Iver, The Raconteurs, Florence + The Machine, Band of Horses, Cage the Elephant, Ray LaMontagne and the list goes on.
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