Like many British musicians, Noah and the Whale seem to be preoccupied with American roots rock. Otherwise, why would their third album, Last Night on Earth, sound exactly like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers made it? This isn't a bad thing. Sure, they aren't the subtlest band in the world—their name, for instance, and the fact that the single is called "L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N." But on this album, Noah and the Whale have traded twee for high production value and self-consciousness for a gospel choir. Its name to the contrary, Last Night on Earth is surprisingly optimistic, featuring road-trip-friendly narratives and mind-sticking hooks. Fortunately, Charlie Fink's deadpan (Springsteenian?) vocals prevent even the happiest songs from sounding forced. REBECCA WILSON
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