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The War On Drugs / Lost In The Dream

March 12, 2014

Written by: Jasen Ribadenera

The War On Drugs

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Lost In The Dream

out March 18th on Secretly Canadian

The War On Drugs’ last album made me want to hot-wire a Ford F-150 and recklessly burn out towards the coast. East, west, didn’t matter. This new one, Lost In The Dream, begs the same reaction, only this time the urge to stop and pick up any and every hitchhiker that I might encounter en route is strong.

A little background on this War On Drugs guy Adam Granduciel. He’s a Massachusetts born Philadelphia transplant who’s tight with another classic rock resurgencer named Kurt Vile. He’s a man with the clarity of vision and imagination to write the brilliant piece of music that is 2011’s Slave Ambient, a record that will one day be spoken of in hushed and revered tones. A man that echoes the sounds of Dylan, Springsteen, The Cars, and Bob Seeger with a class and originality that comes around but once in a blue moon. He’s the real deal, a true all-american original.

I personally don’t care to compare an artist’s new album to their others but I have to say that after becoming somewhat obsessed with Slave Ambient’s emotional roller coaster ride I was holding out mucho hope for what I was in store for with Lost In The Dream. The first time I went through the album’s 10 tracks I was a little lost and felt distracted. Not to say it’s a bland or uninteresting album though, not even close. It just demanded more of my time. The first single “Red Eyes” is one of the best songs Granduciel has ever written. It drives along with that trademark drum machine tempo and pushes the heart into some really deep territory and as most of Granduciel’s songs are wont to do, it explodes with triumph right after the first verse. If you close yr eyes it’s the equivalent of running through a field at 9:30 PM on the 4th of July.  That reckless driving aspect of The War On Drugs’ songs is why I’ve loved them from first listen.

Spotlighting instruments like strings and horns and having a well-placed background singer gives these new songs their own identity, like the distorted harmonica explosion of “Disappearing” and the 808 and honky tonk vibe of “Eyes To The Wind.”  One thing that keeps intruding my thoughts on repeated listens is how much some of these songs sound like “Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley. “An Ocean Between The Waves” and “Burning,” two of the album’s key tracks are red-handed with “Boys Of Summer” guilt, not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. When Lost In The Dream is at it’s best it is, and I say this with full knowledge as to how it makes me sound, fucking breathtaking. Listen to “Burning” down at the end of this review and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you. It seems as if even Granduciel is as excited about these songs as we are, given the fact that he lets out many a well placed “Whoooa” at crucial high emotional tides.

It’s definitely an “album” album that wants to be listened to as a whole with great attention given to it’s track sequence. It sets itself apart by the obvious hundreds of hours that were spent layering the vocals, guitars, synthesizers, pianos, and even saxophones on top of one another to achieve the one of a kind sound that is the outcome. From the opening song “Under The Pressure,” that comes on like a late 80’s light rock hit reeking of reefer and David Bowie to the sparse and beautiful closer “In Reverse” there is a journey to be taken here, that’s for sure. It just might take a while to find out where yr going.

Key Tracks: “Red Eyes” ” Burning”  “An Ocean Between The Waves” “Suffering”

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