It feels like Noah and the Whale have been away for ages, well they actually haven't. Debut album Peaceful The World Lays Me Down was a roaring success, singles 5 Years Time and Shape Of My Heart propelled Noah and the Whale into mainstream consciousness overnight. Follow up The First Days Of Spring didn't quite have the same impact commercially but was by no means a disappointment. It did however lower the bands profile and it's on this, the bands third effort, that the sound of a band trying to re-brand can be heard.
Life Is Life gets the album of to a weak start, gospel chanting over an array of brash production gimmicks give the impression of a band desperate for pastures new. However, the Springsteen styling's of Wild Thing find Noah and the Whale in much more comfortable and familiar surroundings. It's a less awkward and more organic sound that you feel the band enjoy playing far more than the overproduced stuff that contaminates Last Night On Earth at times.
Give It All Back is the fluffy pop infused progression that leaves 5 Years Time well and truly in the past, It's somewhere about this halfway point in the album that you start to feel that they've actually pulled off this change in sound, it stops sounding cynically imported and starts to reflect the foundations of the song writing.
Ultimately, what Noah and the Whale have done here, is take the cutesy nu folk sound of their first two albums and shake it up, adding rock roll/blues edges and even country tinges in the Ryan Adams mould to create a much needed updated sound. It works because the band have adjusted their song writing style to fit new modes of production. Sure, it doesn't seem to work on Life is Life, but perhaps that's because they've taken a step too far, a fraction heavy handed at the mixing desk, but it's not a bug that proves contagious to the rest of a surprisingly fresh sounding album.