When EARMILK wrote about the latest Noble Oak single last week, we had a pretty strong idea that the album it was from, Collapsing Together, was going to be great. Now we can say for certain that this album exceeds our already high expectations. For those who aren't familiar with the work of Noble Oak, AKA the 25 year old Vancouver-based multi-instrumentalist Patrick Fiore, you're in for a treat. Fiore's music is a delicate world of wistful and melancholic dream pop. The swirling sounds of the arctic opener "After The End" starts things off on a grand scale, slowly escalating and expanding, with gorgeous piano as the backbone of the track. By the time the two and a half minute mark hits, a soaring guitar riff and passionate drums fire in, launching the song into the stratosphere. Needless to say it's a proper opener.
The album has no trouble holding up to the lofty bar set by the intro track, thanks in part to an extended group of musicians that lent their talents to Collapsing Together. We hear some stellar soprano sax playing from James Bayford, which evokes Bon Iver at its mellowest on soothing songs like "Out There" and the syncopation-heavy "Steal", as well as some impactful drumming from Adam Wazonek of Soliterre. The emotional centre of the album is without a doubt the sorrowful slow burner "Distance Gone". It's the most palpable and stirring track, with a steady drum beat, moody 80's guitar, and haunting vocals.
A worthy successor to last year's debut album, Past Life, Collapsing Together has Noble Oak finding the sweet spot between sadness and beauty, between vulnerable and direct.