Noah and the whale, Cabaret Voltaire
Tuesday 19 August 2008
Named after the film The Squid and the Whale and its director Noah Baumbach, this London outfit clearly fancy themselves as the kings (and queen) of quirk. Dressed in naff shirt-and-waistcoat combinations, the band revel in their preppy geek-chic.
There is a degree of affectation, then, in the way lead singer Charlie Fink speaks in an eminently proper English accent but sings with a hint of a cultured American twang. Yet his band isn't a vehicle for his outsider affectations so much as an excuse to sing sweet little love songs, so it's easy to overlook such foibles.
Until recently a home for Mercury Prize-nominated singer and ex of Fink's Laura Marling, whose decision to go solo surely won't have been a cause for too much personal regret, Noah and the Whale adopt a similar folk-pop style. Much like Belle and Sebastian, the quartet – and added horn section – live up to that "school orchestra" comparison that the Glasgow group used to hear all the time.
Otherwise simple platitudes are delivered with a certain folksy resonance, as in Fink's urging in a kind of John Wayne drawl to "let your love shine through" during "Beating" and sugary pondering as to "when will your hand find itself in mine?" throughout "Second Lover". There's a bittersweet tinge to his bright and youthful optimism, though – "there's no need to play with my heart" rings out as one of the key lines of "Rocks and Daggers" – and the feeling is that Fink writes from the perspective of the foiled romantic as much as that of the wide-eyed one.
"Five Years' Time" is the neat moment of pop proficiency that has brought the band very recently to national attention, and certain other songs have a similar gentle catchiness. "Rocks and Daggers" itself and the sublime encore "2 Bodies 1 Heart" are among the highlights of the show, although the latter did result in a moment of slight, inadvertent annoyance.
In a small, hot and packed-tight venue, Fink's polite insistence on informing us that there would only be "two more songs", "one more song" and that "that was our last song" belaboured the inevitable. When the band strolled back out with the grand announcement that "we're going to do another song", there were murmurs around the fringes that perhaps he should just get on and play the thing.
Outside in the night air, however, cooler customers might reflect that this band seem to move reassuringly in their own way and at their own pace, much like that whale in the title. A career spent as the favoured band of common-room romantics seems assured for the foreseeable future.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore disappears over Java Sea
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The golden age of TV comedy is here
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment