Review: The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Published on March 25th, 2014 | Luke Cartledge
Philadelphia’s The War On Drugs are the kind of band you rarely see these days. They are neither a product of intense hype nor an undiscovered gem who operate beneath the radar of the mainstream. Instead, they have been quietly building a solid fan base over the last nine years, gradually evolving with each record they release. Now, with the release of third LP Lost in the Dream, they find themselves within spitting distance of the big time.
True to form, Lost in the Dream is no dramatic departure from the band’s second album, 2011’s Slave Ambient. However, it feels a little more focused and direct than its predecessor, despite still being an album of images painted in watercolour. Adam Granuciel, who wrote and recorded the bulk of the album alone, drapes his Dylanesque drawl over lilting melodies that interlock blissfully with the heady Americana of the instrumentation.
This is a record that constantly feels like it is travelling somewhere, yet it never rushes – instead, it moves carefully and deliberately across a sonic landscape that manages to be as varied as it is cohesive. The War On Drugs have always achieved stunning results by combining shoegaze with Americana, and this is their most successful combination yet of those apparently disparate elements.
Lost in the Dream is a long album, with several songs stretching out to over six minutes, yet you barely notice. Opener “Under the Pressure” emerges from a shimmering haze on the crest of a motorik wave, and though this chugging pace rarely changes between that song and closer “In Reverse”, the effect is never boring.
This is partly due to the melancholic profundity of Granuciel’s lyrics (“Will you be here suffering? / Well I hope to be” from “Suffering” is a particularly excellent couplet) and partly due to the swathes of interwoven guitar lines that allow the listener to easily navigate the record’s labyrinthine song structures. By making the music that comes most effortlessly to them, The War on Drugs have also made themselves incredibly easy to love.
Lost in the Dream is out now on Secretly Canadian.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!