Synthesizers, Layered Harmonies and Nostalgia
The new album I Can Feel the Night Around Me from Nightlands is a nine track nostalgic journey through dreamy, spatial worlds. This is the third studio album from the Philadelphia-based group led by War on Drugs member Dave Hartley. Their other releases, Forget the Mantra and Oak Island, explored similar synthesizer stylings, but I Can Feel the Night Around Me is a record where the listener is immediately drawn into the hazy world Hartley has created.
The listener is introduced to nostalgia on the opening track “Lost Moon” where a lo-fi guitar and drums play quietly behind Hartley’s layered vocals. “Depending on You” has synthesizers comparable to those of Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer,” with harmonies like something from Simon & Garfunkel. Drenched in synthesizers and repetitive drumbeats, “Only You Know” (a cover of a Dion song) and “Human Hearts” are tracks that feel as if they were plucked from the ’80s. “Moonbathin” has a slight tinge of marimba and would be best played in an elevator flooded with hipsters. “Fear of Flying” is a colorful track that captures the sound of driving through the city at night with all of the windows down. “You’re Silver” is the most modern-sounding of all the tracks, while also peppering in Beach Boys-esque vocals and harmonizing.
For the most part, I Can Feel the Night Around Me sounds the same from song to song, but what Hartley more than manages to accomplish is a subtle differences between the tracks. At first, it seems that all the songs melt together, which they do to a degree, but when listening to the album for a second or third time, one picks up on the crafty ways Hartley differentiates the tracks. Whether it’s exotic drums and rhythms or subdued talking underneath synthesizers, the clever devices are there and Hartley uses them to draw the listener in and refuses to release them until the album has finished.