This Buzz for You: Noah & the Whale, Heart of Nowhere

Noah & the Whale's fourth release harkens back, in terms of sound, to the band's 2008 sophomore album, The Last Days of Spring. This nostalgia isn't accidental: following their transatlantic success of 2011's Last Night on Earth, a lot of road and air travel prompted frontman Charlie Fink to take a look back at how much his life--and the lives of friends around him--have changed. The passing of time, growing up, personal readiness, and reminiscing on lost or missed love are themes all found here.

The album begins with youthful exuberance expressed through strings: the instrumental Introduction leads seamlessly into the title track that features Anna Calvi on supporting vocals, whose addition inspires a touch of melodrama in all the right ways. For a band whose main theme across albums is transition, this moment between first and second tracks is really quite excellent, and is, admittedly, one of my favorite moments on the album. "Lifetime" is another energetic track that soars with its strings, musing on the oxymoronic qualities of the passing of time.

Heart of Nowhere has other surprises in its more subdued moments as well. The more methodical "Silver and Gold" challenges a lover "If you feel brave, then you'll stay," a line easier to sing than actually follow through and do, coupled with the all too human (mis)conception that worth is also tied into that dynamic. That track also marks a shift: absent are the soaring strings, largely, from the second half of the album. While this is noticeable, it doesn't detract from quality: things get a bit more contemplative at times, but not necessarily without beat or gumption. The instrumental parts of "Not Too Late," for example, remind you of "Lifetime"'s more boisterous moments in their rhythmic pattern, though the track itself has a more subtle approach.

Established fans of Noah & the Whale won't be disappointed by Heart of Nowhere for its blend of the band's sound roots with its moving forward by looking back. Newcomers: well, you all need a good album to start summer with, right? This one will start you off just fine.

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