Courtesy of the artist
Noah and the Whale recently performed a studio session on WFUV.
Noah and the Whale recently performed a studio session on WFUV. Courtesy of the artist
A British band finding inspiration in Lou Reed records, the poetry of Charles Bukowski and an Edward Hopper painting? Throw in the natty attire and the breathless international buzz, and you'd be forgiven for thinking, "Tossers!"
Still, a more friendly and sincere group of young men you're not likely to find — certainly not in a London-based rock band. Granted, Noah and the Whale got its start at the leading edge of the current folk revival in the U.K. But its new album, Last Night on Earth, is full of fist-pumping, sing-along songs, engineered to make you move.
Led by soft-spoken singer-songwriter Charlie Fink, Noah and the Whale is simply following its muse, which led the band to L.A.'s vaunted Sunset Studios. The songs were rendered in the very room where Prince recorded Purple Rain, and rehearsed around the very piano Neil Young used on After the Gold Rush. And the gospel singers in "Old Joy"? They helped sell a zillion albums by lending their "ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa" chant to Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
The results is a series of vignettes rendered as catchy pop tunes — which may come as a shock to fans enamored of the acoustic sounds of the band's debut, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, or its dreamy sequel, The First Days of Spring. That album chronicled Fink's breakup with singer and former collaborator Laura Marling, and yet another departure led to the latest sonic shift: Doug Fink (the band's drummer and Charlie's brother) went off to become a doctor, leaving the group to experiment with drum machines in his stead.
The move away from folk may lose Noah and the Whale some fans, but the new ones will have to be ready for a party — albeit one with artful leanings.