reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Have you ever seen a ship in a bottle? Have you ever really looked at one? All the little wires and planks, the meticulously crafted details that make the piece a work of art. It might have struck you that something that required so much time, so much effort, could only be made by someone with a true passion for their craft.
I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything delicate about NOVEMBER’s music. A strong voice as smooth as velvet guides a listener through sometimes minimalist, sometimes turbulent washes of sound. “Bow down to the drama queen,” NOVEMBER demands on opening track, “Days of Fortune”. The song builds slowly and squeezes air from the lungs and transcends space, a gateway to what’s coming. OLYMPIA is an album of strength, a thoroughly crafted testament to design.
NOVEMBER describes his sound as “Songs about boys and a strong desire to eat poutine”. Any inclination to declare this a simplification of the lush and swooning tracks is missing the point. These are songs about modern frustration from the perspective of NOVEMBER’s “youth in motion” persona described in “Messiah”. Bellowing “I’m Alive” into euphoric washes (“Days of Fortune”), demanding your worth by getting the people around you to put away their phones (“Phone Down”), and memorizing the wall colour of a lover’s bedroom (“Powder Blue”). This is frantic youth in love, and talking about the hour long bus ride it takes to meet someone is the new epitome of romance.
OLYMPIA is a record that reminds you that every second on a song is a choice. A careful attention to detail is paid to when there is silence, when the sound is layered, and when each beat of percussion is placed — from the metallic clang of “Eden”, to the club beats of “Close”. When NOVEMBER’s voice is solo, it never feels alone, but when the synths build like tidal waves and crash down, you can’t imagine a stronger escalation. Utilizing collaboration, OLYMPIA dips into genre exploration. Different Note wrote and is featured on “Manhood”, a rap track that lasts only a little over a minute but is endlessly haunting. “Close” was co-written by Rienne and produced by SwuM, and takes on a club-style cadence.
NOVEMBER’s OLYMPIA finds the junction where experimental pop meets catchy melodies and sets up a fastidious camp. Nothing here is out of place, and yet there’s a wildness about it in the production crackle and unpredictable song shifts. In this space there is nature, there is love, and there is as much metaphorical poutine as you can eat.
Top Tracks: “Days of Fortune”, “Messiah”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*