A dreamy album, which nostalgically uses scrupulous choral arrangements and melancholic major-seventh chords, intended to evoke a “longing for a future that once lay ahead, but has drifted out of reach,” I Can Feel The Night Around Me is The War On Drugs’ Dave Hartley’s third album. Sedating, intoxicating, multi-layered, Nightlands certainly showcases his ability to create choral arrangements through layering.
Dave Hartley has been integral in Philadelphia’s music scene for more than a decade and has performed his songs not only as a taut four-piece, but also a twelve-piece ensemble with a choir and a one-man-band. He also wrote and stunningly performed an original score to Stanley Kubrick’s opus 2001: A Space Odyssey and remains a fertile collaborator with artists such as Sharon Van Etten.
Warm and pensive, this record consists of Dave Hartley on vocals and guitar, Anthony LaMarca (The War On Drugs, Dean & Britta) on drums, Eliza Hardy Jones (Strand of Oaks, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals) on keys and vocals, Jesse Hale Moore on keys and vocals and Scott Churchman (Chubby Checker) on bass. With hints of The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and the more contemporary Beta Band and The Aliens, it is fair to say that there are elements of psychedelic nostalgia, and an unwillingness to wake up with this album. As soon as the album opener hits the listener is lost and not sobered anywhere near until Moonbathing.
Take album opener and lead single Lost Moon. The synths and harmonious vocal stacks echo through a canyon illuminated by the light of a billion stars, with classic simple guitar riffs underscoring. There is certainly a timeless quality and universality about this track. Similarly, Only You Know, which incorporates lyrics such as “and when the day comes don’t let yourself be deceived again” is a contemplative ballad with many layers.
The stand out track on this record for me is the somewhat more sobering, Moonbathing, textual but less dreamy, more confrontational with enough of a hit to wake you up from this I Can Feel The Night Around Me daze. It portrays the technical skill of Hartley without pulling you under his spell but all in all this record is not too bad a spell to be cast upon any person, offering more sedation and warmth to more difficult times.
I Can Feel the Night Around Me is out today via Western Vinyl.