Oak IslandAlbum | Nightlands By Stewart Mason
Philadelphia one-man-band explores '70s AM pop tropes
The second album by Nightlands, the one-man project by Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley, starts with a song called "Time and Place" that opens with the startlingly direct lyric "I'd like to invite you, for a little while, to a place I used to go when I was 17." That sense of plainspoken nostalgia permeates Oak Island, an album of hazy pop songs built mostly out of multiple layers of Hartley's self-harmonies, multi-tracked until they decay into a wash of sound. Think of a bedroom DIY take on 10cc's "I'm Not In Love," and that '70s pure-pop classic is in fact not far from Hartley's mind here. In fact, the album's press kit claims that Hartley took that kind of sweet AM radio staple as the starting point for the album's musical concept, pointing out that Burt Bacharach-style major-seventh chords predominate throughout the songs; the regular appearance of a muted trumpet, another sonic signature of the era, sounds like another hat-tip to the easy listening master. Hartley's day job is bassist in CM favorites The War On Drugs, whose own music is like the FM album-oriented flipside to these languorous, swirling tunes. At times, it seems like Hartley is more interested in maintaining a particular atmosphere than creating truly memorable tunes, but then a song like the galloping "I Fell In Love With A Feeling," with its modern-day Forever Changes trumpet hooks and nervous-rush vocal line, or the jittery avant-disco "Rolling Down the Hill," snaps you right back to attention.
|I Fell In Love With A Feeling|