Noah And The Whale

Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down

Sweet and sour: the oldest trick in the book. Just ask Uncle Ben. And if soft-hearted London folkies Noah And The Whale aren’t quite as deft with savoury rice, they’ve got the knack of balancing heart-melting, pupil-dilating ditties with words of chill bleakness down pat. Take ‘Jocasta’: not since Elbow crooned “I’ll be the corpse in your bathtub” in your ear has such a disturbing opening line as “When the baby’s born/Let’s turn it to the snow” been uttered so charmingly. Infanticide? Naw. So cute! The Whalers have bristled in interviews when tarred with the ‘twee’ brush, and indeed, like fellow dark alt. folkies Laura Marling (who provides harmonies throughout), Jeremy Warmsley or Jeffrey Lewis, they’re hardly happy campers. Oompah-cheerful and fiddle-bedizened as ‘Shape Of My Heart’ is, beneath the icing, frontman Charlie Fink warbles thickly “If there’s any love in me don’t let it grow” and wonders what it’s like to die.

‘5 Years Time’, though, while it stirs the summer-lovin’ heart with new-lamb-bouncy ukuleles and refrains about zoos and love, will inevitably turn off the more cynical. Skippy rhythms, whistling and woodblocks force an air of Disney-eyed optimism that all the mumbling about dead babies in the world can’t shake. Still, they’re best when not trying to smuggle misery like heroin bags inside kittens, indulging in pure exuberance like the Adem-ish love hymn ‘2 Atoms In A Molecule’. It’s about as sour as a Labrador puppy marinated in honey, and just as lovable. Well, until Charlie starts talking about getting stabbed in the heart…

Emily Mackay
6 / 10

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