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Noah and the Whale, ‘Last Night on Earth’ (Mercury)

On Noah and the Whale’s 2009 album, The First Days of Spring, frontman Charlie Fink gave a dejected rundown of his breakup with fellow London folkie (and former Noah bandmate) Laura Marling. Here, he’s moved on, contemplating escapism (“Life Is Life”) and expectations (“Waiting for My Chance to Come”) through a cast of hopeful characters. Pairing dreamy synths and tight riffs, the result is confident and exhilarating, especially on “Give It All Back,” where Fink’s fond reminiscing about a teenage band over a childlike xylophonebittersweetly reconciles past and present.