Nightlands - I Can Feel The Night Around Me

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-05-05

When does a side project start to rival the main one? And at that, one as powerful as Philadelphia’s War On Drugs? Actually, right here with this third outing from Nightlands (War On Drugs bass player Dave Hartley) - I Can Feel The Night Around Me.

Right off, you can hardly hear any resemblance in sound between the two projects. While War On Drugs do an excellent stretching of Dylanesque boundaries (something Dylan himself seems to have shelved these days), Nightlands is something you can freely call the exercise in perfect harmony pop. With the accent on perfect. Really. Hartley is obviously an A student of all musical things West Coast from Beach Boys to the Seventies soft soul excursions of, for example, The Doobie Brothers. And it works a charm.

The moment you take a look at the lonely runner on the cliff above the ocean at dusk you can get an idea what is in store for you. And that is exactly the way Last Moon opens the album. All unobtrusive synths and beautifully multi-tracked vocal harmonies. Depending On You, brings in the soft soul element, while Easy Does It, does it easy and reminds you to look where you misplaced that first CSN album. The soulful Only You Know just confirms the impression - Hartley has not just used synths as the key backing to his vocals (and occasional guitars) but he has synthesised together all the sounds that make great harmony pop. The cover doesn’t show whether the runner has earphones in his ears, but this is the kind of music that just simply fits (like a glove?) into moments like that one.

Actually, Love’s in Love is a giveaway, another occasion this album is good for. And so on until the closing Human Hearts. So what does this album give you? Is it something you can call “meaningful” music? Not in the sense if you always have to qualify meaningful as a serious message. Because pure enjoyment that this music gives you has quite a serious purpose and it does it perfectly.

I’ll remember this one as we compile the year end lists.

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