Is “Advance” the title of Noah and the Whale’s new CD, or is it the record’s status? Answer: Yes. I’ve read that when this album actually comes out, it will be called, “Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down,” but the CD pressing I have actually says “Advance” on it, and is not set for US release until September 16th, 2008. But “Advance” is an apt description of this complex album, which seems ahead of its time in the way that it mixes the sad weight of indie rock with the jangly harmonies of folk-pop and the steady beat of Americana, creating it’s own genre. The best example of this is the anthemic, “Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down,” a six-minute opus through each of the aforementioned musical styles, ending in a dirge-like climax that leaves the listener wondering whether to feel sad or hopeful. “Give a Little Love” recalls Lennon’s #9 Dream, even if the vocals are more similar stylistically to Ringo (being that they are straightforward and have limited range)—it’s a soaring, idealistic pop song with a simple beat. Another standout track is Shape of My Heart, a song comparing love to snow, full of beautiful imagery and a sweet, shy chorus (“If there’s any love in me, don’t let it show/If there’s any love in me, let it grow”). No, NATW are not the first to use gardening images in this way, but they do it well.
This is a very challenging album, one that should stay with you for quite some time.
For fans of: The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The National.
BONUS COVER SONG: