Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
The grains of salt that must have been taken in the writing of the last two Noah and The Whale albums could have formed a mountain, no doubt. The frivolity of so much of life had to have started coming through to Charlie Fink, the lead singer for the group from Twickenham, London. He had to have decided to let some sadness and depression go in order to get this way, to just calm the melancholy down some. It can just get unbearable sometimes, that lasting stickiness of dread and dim prospects, or of the shadowy memories of lovers lost. It can be a monster under the bed or the mice in the walls that are unable to be ignored, even with the strongest of willpower. It gets to be so heavy that it squashes a person. Fink has had his bouts of heartbreaking trauma that have been nicely fit into words and lyrics, given a chance to dig the hole even deeper. Performing, he had to play out of and live within the emotions of a breakup, night-after-night and it's something that's liable to bury a man.
Something changed from the days of making "The First Days of Spring" to the days of making "Last Night On Earth," and now to the making of the newest record, "Heart of Nowhere." These aren't the changes that you'd suspect from the first two titles, but rather a loosening up of sorrow and a clearing of the overcast skies. It could just have been that there was a greater point to just say, "Fuck it," and no one could blame a guy for doing so. There's a feeling that everything's somewhat better, or it's just a play on the idea that anything can be seen in a better light if the contrast is the world ending in less than 24 hours. You can let a lot of stuff slide when there's not much left to have to let slide.
Fink sings on "Tonight's The Kind of Night" - from "Last Night On Earth" -- "Tonight's the kind of night that everything could change." Somehow the band - which includes fiddle/keyboard player Tom Hobden, bassist Matt Owens, guitarist Fred Abbott and drummer Michael Petulla - has a way of making the apocalypse, the end of it all, sound like a romp around a sunny town, with the top rolled back and a vision of grand things unbelievably happening to a bunch of humble souls. Everything's turned joyous, or close to it. There has been a great unburdening, weight's lifted and folks are just allowed to sip the sweet air and behave as carelessly as they want. They're able to just be whatever form of themselves that they'd like to be, for there will no longer be any judgment. It's an abandonment of the hang-ups and all those things that hold people back from being truly happy. With one day or night to go, they just let loose. They get the tattoo they've always wanted. They finally tell the person they've always loved that they love them, consequences be damned. They're going to smile their faces sore and they're going to surround themselves with all of the people they've found with good hearts, for that last gasp.
With "Heart of Nowhere," Fink takes us to some point after what was supposed to be the end of it all and, lo and behold, here we are, still dealing with a lot of the same shit. We're bored and we're tired and we're feeling like we're still hanging out here in the breeze. People are going by with worried eyes and they're going to bed alone and sad, but there's still that slim hope that you're going to be able to steer clear of these troubles and make good on the night. You and your friends are still surviving and that's what counts.
Noah and the Whale Official Site
New album "Heart of Nowhere" now available for download on iTunes