The War On Drugs' bassist Dave Hartley has taken quite a departure from his main band's poppy indie with side project Nightlands. Oak Island, the second full-length released under the name, is the sound of Hartley really expressing himself. He's known for being in The War On Drugs, but Nightlands is really his.

'Time And Place' starts with the lines "I'd like to invite you, for just a little while, to a place I used to go when I was only 17." It enhances the feeling that Oak Island is a trip through Hartley's mind, and an album that he really wanted to make. Vocals drenched in synths define this record, with licks of acoustic guitar occasionally breaking through the ambience during 'Time And Place', only to be swamped again by layers and layers of synth-enhanced vocals.

'So Far So Long' trundles along, complete with trumpet sounds of the Beirut ilk, yet passes by without any real lasting impression or meaning, and this is a flaw in the majority of Oak Island. After each listen, I feel like there's something I've missed, and although it's pleasant, the middle section of the album flutters by without any real substance over the mechanical, layered vocals.

Then 'I Fell In Love With A Feeling' comes out of absolutely nowhere. Acoustic guitar makes its way to the forefront and is accompanied by frenzied trumpets which, when teamed with male and female vocals, provides the real grit and substance that the majority of Oak Island lacks. I just wonder why it's down at track seven, as on a less patient day I might have turned Oak Island off before this point.

'Rolling Down The Hill' possesses a lethal bassline, and is a funky, poppy departure from the rest of the album. Short final track 'Looking For Rain' is a nice comedown, sending the album off gracefully. Oak Island is an album of ups and downs, and has points where it gets so bogged down in ambience that the clarity of 'I Fell In Love With A Feeling' and 'Rolling Down The Hill' comes as both a surprise and a relief.

Oak Island is a tough listen from start to finish, possibly because of its personal and inverted nature, and its closeness to Dave Hartley, and I don't think it's an album I'll revisit as a whole, but the handful of standout tracks do go a way towards making up for this. It's an album that Dave Hartley made for no-one but himself, and that has proved both good and bad.