The thematics of Oak Island are science fiction in nature, imaginary in realism.
Dave Hartley seems like a sincere guy with a lot of drive. It shows on his official site for Nightlands. And if you have witnessed or listened to the many projects that he has been involved in, most notably bassist for The War On Drugs, you understand just how hectic this musician really is. It’s not suprising that it took two-and-a half years to complete Oak Island. What is impressive though is that with all of these diversions and distractions, just how incredible this album is. And that speaks volumes for Hartley’s talents.
The thematics of Oak Island are science fiction in nature, imaginary in realism. With his recent re-working of the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey, you can’t help but feel the influence of that on this work.
This album is a non-dystopian look at reality askewed. For Hartley, science fiction literature adjoins his view of human nature, and it will have you looking at indie music in a fresh prospect.
“Peace and Love” immediately takes you back to The Man Who Fell To Earth, but with Bowie’s “Buddha of Suburbia” stance. Hartley uses this moment to welcome the listener into his world by giving a little piece of him, a gesture of trust before he diverges from the ethereal pop nomenclature into a utopian-like pop feeling as the album progresses.
The way “So Far So Long” blends together in cosmic layers and hovering vocals that wrap around you in a tropical warmth, all I want to do at this point is close my eyes and let this song consume me. There is no danger in his universe, only depth.
“I Fell In Love With A Feeling” is the heavy-hitter of the album at this moment. It’s like a combination of the Twilight Zone episode “The Long Morrow” and Solaris meets ‘60s lounge-pop. It’s subtlety on both ends, brings out the hopeless romantic in Hartley’s demeanor. But this reaction to a song like this stems from the build up of “Born To Love,” a look at the human spirit that will have you searching from within as he is looking out from the outside.
It begins his departure on Oak Island. As the album winds down, he transforms back into Bowie-esque spirit and “Looking For Rain” is an outro that dissipates back into the universe of your mind.
Oak Island moves through the songs quick, barely passing the three-minute golden rule of pop song compositions. But what he does do, is tightly packed in a glorious bundle of joy, passion, and expression that I haven’t felt in a pop album for some time now.
It’s not like Hartley needed to make this album. After listening to Oak Island, you get the distinct feeling that he *wanted* to make this album and every moment we get out of it is worth it.