Release Date: Sep 16, 2008
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Noah and the Whale aren't doing anything hugely unique on their debut album Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. You can hear bands playing a quite similar brand of strummy, plummy folk-pop on indie film soundtracks, and there are quite strong threads of Belle & Sebastian, Arcade Fire, the Magic Numbers, and a hundred other popular indie poppers running through their sound. This familiarity could breed contempt very easily, but the band manages to escape relatively unscathed and come up with an album that adds to the canon instead of just being a pale exercise in copycat-ism.
It's hard to dislike this Twickenham-based quartet. Their foppish indieboy spin on classic folk-rock is, more often than not, perfectly listenable. But you can't help but wonder, between all the gleeful strums and wizened howls, whether they possess the inner torment to carry off such worldly material. .
Noah & the Whale have sailed from the placid waters of London's anti-folk scene into the charts. But don't let the single fool you, beneath the swirling currents of colourful folk and Laura Marling's ethereal backing vocals lurks nihilism worthy of Nirvana. Bloodless hearts tangle with disintegrating bones while Charlie Fink battles his heart as though it were his bitterest enemy.
Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale is a tender and painful look at the collapse of a family in early-'80s Brooklyn and the damage done to a couple’s children after a divorce. On their debut LP, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, British folkies Noah and the Whale attempt for the raw emotion of the film it was named after but sound more like a band desperately trying (and failing) to be profound. Noah and the Whale signed to Cherrytree this year after a string of singles, including their breakout song, “5 Years Time,” started getting noticed by the electric-guitar-obsessed NME.
From their Wes Anderson-mimicking videos and Noah Baumbach-quoting band name, Noah and the Whale seem too precious by half, maybe even more a gimmick than a band. The album itself is different, though, more a youthful singer-songwriter musing on the big topics of youth, love and death, while the other band members sing along, campfire style, and offer quirky little instrumentation. Both often seem like affectations of today’s trends in indie-pop/rock.