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First Listen: Noah And The Whale

Noah and the Whale's The First Days of Spring is the breakup album of the year — maybe even the album of the year — and it comes out Oct. 6. Which means that, as of this writing, you have exactly seven days to torpedo a personal relationship in such a way that these songs can nurse your psychic wounds. The First Days of Spring is more than just a concept album about emotional survival: It navigates a process and a journey to a specific destination.

The London band — named for the movie The Squid and the Whale and its director, Noah Baumbach — first made its mark with last year's marvelous Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down. Best known for its hit single "5 Years Time" (the song in commercials that goes, "Fun, fun, fuuuuuuuun!"), Peaceful only hinted at the majestic, open-hearted, unabashedly hopeful gloom here.

After a funereal opening that would make The National proud, singer Charlie Fink's first words set the tone for everything that follows: "It's the first day of spring / and my life is starting over again." From there, Fink surveys the emotional wreckage that follows a breakup, from the unwelcome arrival of solitude ("Our Window") to ill-conceived attempts to fill the void ("Stranger") to the slow realization that time really does heal ("Blue Skies"). For such a deliberately paced, sonically delicate record, The First Days of Spring always knows exactly where it's going. By the time it lands at a genuine epiphany in its glorious final minute, Noah and the Whale has both told a vivid story and written a practical manual for recovery.

Please leave your thoughts on The First Days of Spring in the comments section below.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)