1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beauty encapsulated, 31 May 2011
Following the break-up of Charlie Fink, lead singer of Noah And The Whale, and Laura Marling, the twice Mercury Prize nominee and solo artist, Fink needed a catharsis to clear away the emotional baggage he carried from the breakdown of their relationship. Thankfully for us, the listener, this catharsis has resulted in one of the best albums of the year.
'The First Days Of Spring' exclusively deals with this breakdown, lyrically, and also musically. The melodies are often sparse and come with a sense of haunting mystification, as they build slowly with a certain clarity which seems ready to be unleashed at any minute. The title track starts with a quiet drum beat, woozy violon and sparse guitar, building ever so slowly. This is followed by 'Our Window', with it's gentle piano loop and ever-growing violon, which stand in a sharp contrast to Fink's tenor voice. The first four songs of the album, including 'I Have Nothing' and 'My Broken Heart', battle for hope over despair, as the mournful melodies try to find joy in their surroundings, and it is only on the latter that we start to find the first signs of optimism amongst the ambivalent moods.
The following 'Instrumental I' leads into 'Love Of An Orchestra', which shows the real optimism that has been found, with Fink singing 'I know I'll never be lonely...I'm carrying all the love of an orchestra.' After the weary, sombre openings, this explosion of happiness can't escape feeling a little superficial, as we see a blast of glee when it would be least expected. The second half of the album carries on with this new-found optimism, as Fink proclaims 'This is the last song that I write, whilst still in love with you', giving us the sense that the pessimistic, sombre lyrics that came before have all been forgotten, and a change is coming. However, 'Stranger' is an exception to this, as it goes back to the poignant lyrics of before, woefully singing 'I'm a fox trapped in the headlights.' On the penultimate track 'Slow Glass' and final track 'My Door Is Always Open', the optimism returns, and the album closes beautifully in a crescendo of violin and guitar on the latter.
This really does seem like an evolution for Noah And The Whale, moving from twee pop songs to creating haunting melodies, that really stir the emotions, giving you a comfort that you are not alone in your longings and lamentations. It seems that this album will be the shoulder for many musical fans to rest on for quite a while to come, and even the most withdrawn listener can empathise with the heartache that is put on show for all to see.