For Londoners Noah & The Whale, The First Day Of Spring is a ‘difficult’ second album in more ways than one, an aching and poignant journey through heartbreak, and the subsequent attempts at healing, recovery and moving on. Much of this theme has been attributed to lead singer Charlie Fink’s break-up with Mercury-nominated Laura Marling; this album, it would appear, is his catharsis. The title track is the album opener and is an epic song laden with layers of string and brass instrumentals, and lyrics packed with allegory and hope, sung in an almost spoken-word trance; ‘I’m still here hoping that one day you will come back.’
Every track on this folk-pop album charts the course of the classic break-up scenario, from the awkward conversation that ends it all in ‘Our Window’ (‘I don’t think that it’s the end but I know we can’t keep going’) to the first post break-up dalliances with a new bed partner in ‘Stranger’. All of which are backed up with the ever present and torturous desire to return to the comfort zone of the falling apart relationship (pre-falling apart obviously), as illustrated on ‘I Have Nothing’; this tends to be an overriding theme on most tracks on the album. ‘Love Of An Orchestra’ is choral and upbeat and features the universal premise of finding solace in art and creativity, while ‘Instrumental II’ is a bucolic stream of church bells, acoustic guitar, and trickling water sounds.
Towards the end of the album the mood rises and the heartbroken narrator starts offering advice to anyone going through the same experiences in tracks such as ‘Blue Skies’; ‘This is a song for anyone with a bro-o-o-o-ken heart, this is a song for anyone who can’t get out of bed’. The album closes with the country-tinged slide guitar sounds of ‘My Door Is Always Open’ and it is a lovely little piece of optimistic closure with the lyrics taking on a more positive stance, ‘Now I’m free from all your pain’ and ‘You know that my heart’s not yours.’ The deluxe edition of the album comes with a short film made by the band, none too surprising when one considers the nature of the album’s universal imagery used within the songs and promises to make the package a sensory treat. All in all a beautiful and accomplished second album, yet one to approach with care if you have anything close to a fragile state of the heart.