British folk rockers Noah and the Whale got their band name from combining the name of their favorite film with the director: Noah Baumbach and his film The Squid and the Whale. However, after listening to their debut release Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, it seems like they were channeling a different film as the whole album sounds like it would have have been perfect as part of the soundtrack to Juno.
It is really hard to find anything to criticize about this album. Instrumentally, it is one of the most diverse albums of the year. Of course the basic instruments are there, but the band also uses xylophone, ukulele, fiddle, trumpet, harmonica and more. The group also utilizes body effects like snapping, clapping and whistling as well as any instrument. Noah and the Whale effortlessly balances these instruments from having a big climax in song where all these instruments are brazenly used like in “Shape of My Heart” to holding back so the listener’s heart is just left quivering along with the smooth vibrato of Tom’s fiddle playing.
Lyrically, this album is ridiculously clever and funny. Charlie’s vocals snap through verses that describe the misery of love in “2 Atoms in a Molecule” and he leaves little time to wallow before he reminds the listener, “A tragic event, I must admit, but let’s not be overblown.” He then humorously suggests that the problem with his love life is that “Maybe I just need a new cologne.”
The band brilliantly juxtaposes happiness and misery on multiple tracks. On “Shape of My Heart” the summery tempos are combined with sad lyrics, “Oh, when I look to the shape of my heart, it’s separated only by scar that cut in and cut out and will leave me without a heart that functions at all.”
That isn’t to say that all the tracks describe miserable situations while the rest of the band whistles merrily along. Some of the songs are just flat out happy. Single “5 Years Time” is downright effervescent. Make sure you watch the music video for this song, which is probably one of the most adorable music videos you’ll ever watch. Also make sure you watch it so the Noah and the Whale dance can take the place of “YMCA” at your next party. You’ll appear to be much trendier.
Look for Noah and the Whale’s Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down to hit U.S. shores on September 16, 2008 on Cherrytree/Interscope, although for those of you impatient fans you can either buy the single “5 Years Time” on iTunes now or import the full album from the U.K. in August.
01. 2 Atoms in a Molecule
03. Shape of My Heart
04. Do What You Do
05. Give a Little Love
06. Second Lover
07. 5 Years Time
08. Rocks and Daggers
09. Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down
11. Hold Me Hand as I’m Lowered
Written by: Bethany