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The REMBOWAH WEEK pt 3: the ah

13/03/2011

It was pretty easy to guess there’d be change in the Noah and the Whale camp for the third album. 2009’s majestic The First Days of Spring was an album born out of a quick reaction rather than result of the usual stylistic evolution bands go through. It chronicled the dissolution of frontman Charlie Fink’s relationship and was a record born out of and inspired by depression and misery, both lyrically and musically with its subdued tones. It was an excursion to somewhere else and in the future years it will most likely be a bit out of sync with the rest of the band’s works.

Nonetheless, you couldn’ t have guessed the change would be this radical. The band’s raised the ever-fashionable synthesizers on the forefront and gone straight to the other extreme in the emotional scale, switching from the debut’s obsession with death and First Days’ personal tragedy to upbeat, “keep the chin up, life’s going to be awesome again” pep talks coloured with bright pastel shades, happy-go-lucky melodies and singalong choruses. At times, Last Night on Earth sounds like the songs from the credits sequences of 80s teen flicks. Other times, Fink’s voice is the only reminder that you’re listening to the folk pop band of the last two albums.

Not that it’s negative in itself, and in fact the first impression is that Last Night on Earth would make a brilliant springtime listen for all the bright, sunny mornings and crispy days. The opening duo guides you to the new sound fairly well, and the three-punch right afterwards is an impressive run of songs as great as any on the band’s earlier albums. “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” is a marvellously lovely and cuddly little stroll in its sheer upbeatness and the album title-dropping middle section is bound to be one of the best of the year, “Wild Thing” is a beautiful momentum piece with its lingering guitars and dreamy atmosphere, and the nostalgic “Give It All Back” is irresistable thanks to the vast amount of instantly enchanting vocal melodies and hooks the song is littered amount with.

The second half lets it down though. It lasts 15 minutes, divided into five songs of which none comes even close to the band’s usual standards. It’s a quick, unmemorable stream of perky synths and attempts of mood that replace with content with a more superficial nature. The sound is nice as the band does some new things and whatnot, but under the top layer there’s relatively little else to the songs. They don’t grab, and when your attention span begins to wonder somewhere else in such a short time, there’s something off. Fink’s usually rather good lyrics are missing as well, replaced with passable words that do not really fling the meter one way or the other.

Overall feeling is one of slight disappointment. I’d love for an album that keeps the feeling of the first five songs, but almost as if with a flick of a switch the second half mumbles and tumbles its way. Initially I thought that it’s simply the REMBOW stealing my attention from Noah but the more I listen, the more it feels like it feels a bit forgettable completely on its own regard. Sadly, the band have seemed to lost a bif their magic here.


L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

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