Best tunes of 2011: #27 Noah And The Whale “Life is life”

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It’s Sunday and I’m on a mini-holiday. So I’m not going to go into an all out rail against Pitchfork, that taste-making, music-reviewing website that sometimes feels like its trying too hard to keep its taste-making credentials intact. But I will say this: if I didn’t listen to all the albums for which they have given rotten reviews, I might be missing out on some of my favourite albums.

Noah and the Whale’s debut, “Peaceful, the world lays me down”, for instance, was given a lowly 2.6 rating out of 10, the reviewer calling it “twee pop you might order in a kit”. For my own part, I guess I must have a soft spot for generic, derivative schlock, because I actually quite enjoyed the album.

Thankfully for me and scores of others, the indie pop band out of Twickenham either has thick skin or never did read the article. I say thankfully because they continued on, releasing three more albums before finally calling it quits seven years later. By 2011, though, Laura Marling and Doug Fink, brother of frontman Charlie Fink, had both left the band and Noah and the Whale’s sound had changed quite a bit. They had dispensed with the ukuleles, banjos, and glockenspiels, and really, the folk pop sound that was so prominent on the debut and then, added synths and crisp production on their third album, “Last night on earth”.

“Life is life” is the opening track and third single released off this third album. The mechanized sounding beats that open the song are definitely no longer twee, nor are the synthesizers. However, the handclaps and crowd vocals still signal that this is Noah and the Whale. A rousing number, it’s a third person observation on the act of scrapping everything to start anew. “Left his house at midnight, resolute and young, in search of something greater than the person he’d become.” Perhaps it’s a little heavy-handed and obvious but it’s got a great beat and energy to spare. And of course, it’s cheerful, like a lot of their work, and sometimes, that’s just what you need.

Almost like a Sunday morning, on a mini-holiday. Cheers.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.

8 replies on “Best tunes of 2011: #27 Noah And The Whale “Life is life””

I’ve never liked them myself, but by giving them a 2.6, Pitchfork likely gave them a few more fans… or at least increased the likelihood that the album would at least get a listen out of curiosity.

Liked by 1 person

Haha. Very possible. I remember Airborne Toxic Event’s debut scoring even lower and the band getting quite offended. But I don’t think it hurt sales any.

Liked by 1 person

Can’t imagine. I’d at least check out an album if the reviewer hated it that much… they must be doing something right!


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