Four albums in, and Noah And The Whale have firmly established a reputation as one of Britain's more esteemed bands. The heavy folk influence of the debut album has largely dissipated over the years, instead giving away to an evocative eighties sound. The trend continues on 'Heart Of Nowhere', with an orchestral theme that harks back to their second album, 'First Days Of Spring'.
As with previous album, 'Last Night On Earth', the latest record starts off in an arresting fashion. Sparkling orchestral opener 'Introduction' sets a hopeful mood for the rest of the album. Title track 'Heart Of Nowhere' immediately continues the striking orchestral theme, also featuring the powerful guest vocals of Anna Calvi - although these feel somewhat out of place against the relative fragility of Charlie Fink's voice.
At times, Noah & The Whale feel like they're conducting an internal battle between the ostentatious and the more restrained. 'All Through The Night', for example, fitting into the former category with its quite ridiculous guitar licks before being immediately followed by the relatively reserved 'Lifetime'. At the heart of each of these tracks, however, is the sense of a strong pop melody - something the band have reproduced consistently since their breakthrough single '5 Years Time'.
The lyrics may not quite share the heartfelt resonance of break-up album 'The First Days Of Spring' but there are times, where the simplicity seems surprisingly profound. "It's okay to not always be sure where you want to go" from 'Silver And Gold', for example, offers a believable reassurance - aided by the richness of the production, which brings its own unexpected warmth.
The odd track on the album proves to be noticeably placid, particularly in the latter half of 'Heart Of Nowhere', but a driving chorus or a catchy refrain is never far away. The melancholic nature of the album's final track, 'Not Too Late', is perhaps a surprise but hardly detracts from the triumph and glorious melodrama of the earlier offerings. Their folk roots may have been largely forgotten but thankfully, it appears Noah & The Whale are in it for the long haul.
'Heart Of Nowhere' is available to purchase at amazon.co.uk etc.