INDIE folkers Noah and the Whale re never going to be press darlings.
They’re not controversial and only became slightly cool when, on second album The First Days Of Spring, singer Charlie Fink dealt lyrically with his break-up with Laura Marling, who had been in the band for first album Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down.
First Days … went down a storm with the critics, who loved its introspection and beautiful melancholia, but ultimately it was one of those records which is undoubtedly great but that you rarely get out and play unless you’re nursing a broken heart.
Follow-up Last Night on Earth, by contrast, was chock full of commercial hits and sounded outstanding live, a bit like a folky Wonder Stuff for the 21st century. Sensibly it, rather than First Days …, is the reference point for Heart of Nowhere.
Is it as good? Almost. It is unlikely to win over those who insist that their guitar music be edgy, innovative and definitely not at home on Radio 2. They are not Alt J.
What they are, though, is consistently tuneful, absolutely lacking in any kind of blandness and lyrically comprehensible; they call a spade a shovel and it doesn’t take a degree in metaphor to understand what the songs are about. They may need to make a different record next time out, but Heart of Nowhere is another NATW album and, for now, that’s enough.