Throughout their career, indie folk outfit Noah and the Whale have undergone many transitions from record to record that have allowed them to grow and mature, from their early young-and-in-love debut, to the achingly beautiful break-up album The First Days of Spring. Their fourth record, Heart of Nowhere, is no different and follows the groundwork put in place by their third outing Last Night on Earth. The entire record rides on uplifting, '80s-inspired, radio-friendly melodies that belie the still troubled Charlie Fink, whose intimately personal lyrics are perhaps closer to the truth than the names given on "One More Night" and "Still After All These Years" would suggest. Here Fink delves headfirst into a nostalgic look to past lovers, lost nights, and growing up, told with his typically melancholic slant. The crisp, violin-led title track, which features Anna Calvi's commanding voice -- the first female vocals to take center stage on a Noah and the Whale track since Laura Marling -- immediately announces their renewed, assured sound this time out. The lively "All Through the Night" channels the carefree rock of Bruce Springsteen and coaxes Fink to raise his usual gentle croon into a rare moment of unrestrained passion. As the record draws to a close, "There Will Come a Time" pops up with a slice of marvelous pop/rock that ticks all the right boxes for a perfect summer anthem and later sees Fink continue in his personal musical therapy with the affirming "Now Is Exactly the Time." The striking production -- namely the driving bass and tight drum sound -- that Arcade Fire mixer Craig Silvey has conjured up here has created a spacious sounding record that is packed with strings and synths and is for the most part -- rather impressively -- recorded live. After three successful releases, this album sees Fink take stock of his life after years of touring and come to the realization that he, along with his friends and family, have long since grown up and left his much revered youth behind.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Kerr