Published Jun 18, 2020In recent years, the dream pop genre has swelled in popularity thanks to the likes of Alvvays and Beach House — but as with many popular genres, hackneyed reproductions of this iconic sound are inevitable. Vancouver's Noble Oak, however, breathes fresh air into the electronic dream pop world with Horizon.
What separates Noble Oak's brand of dream pop is how quirky it is. He designs a heavily idyllic atmosphere, leveraging unconventional instrumentation. Percussively, "Hyacinth" feels like more of a hip-hop track with pop melodies. "Magic Eyes" introduces itself with slow bongo patterns. Horizon is a chiller yet brighter exploration of the dream pop genre, with gorgeous synthwave production and punctuating rhythms.
Vocal distortions are reminiscent of Tame Impala, with songs like "In Series". Shimmering keys dance in the background of "Different Place" and "Derailed" to create the signature atmospheric aura of dream pop, while its ornate elements keep it from being forgettable.
Despite the many variances in instrumentation, the production maintains a consistent aesthetic – which at times feels like an intersection between chillwave and conventional dream pop. "Evaporate" utilizes decidedly electronic production elements common in Tycho-inspired downtempo tracks.
Noble Oak redefines what atmospheric music can be by creating an experience that is immersive rather than superficial. The album closes with the somnolent and lyric-less "Hypersleep," a relaxed but triumphant fineale that doubles-down on the originality that Noble Oak brings to the table. Horizon is a reaffirmation that the dream pop aesthetic commands attention rather than squanders it. (Last Gang)