Despite the fact that it’s taken me over a month to get around to writing about it, I was pretty excited about the newest release from The War On Drugs. Their last album was maybe a little uneven, but considering some of its tracks were downright killer, it had the feeling of a band that was just getting ready for something even more assured and epic. And then Lost In The Dream came out, and it kinda just sat there in my iTunes for a few weeks, with me failing to really get on it’s wavelength until about a week ago. Which I guess was my way of discovering that The War On Drugs are a band whose albums take a while to grow on you. Though I guess when you’re only somewhat familiar with an artist, it’s hard to discern if their albums are “growers”, or just kinda boring.
Considering The War On Drugs’ last album was called Slave Ambient, it’s safe to say that they’re no stranger to ambience — so much so that they’d openly admit to being slaves to it (I think that’s what they were going for). But the synth-y landscapes that are painted on Lost In The Dream feel less like filler this time around, and more like they’re there to deepen the melancholy and anxiety of these insular guitar-driven songs. There’s often a delicate balance between plaintive balladry and heartland rock, which makes for an album that serves as nice background music, but is lively enough that it also makes for good driving music on a wet April afternoon.
At this point, it’s getting a little tiring to hear any rock band get compared to Bruce Springsteen, since The Boss seems to loom large over most rock music that dares to be big and expansive, while also exuding a certain heir of personal reflection. But at least The War On Drugs managed to carve out a sound that bears the closest resemblance to the most underrated album of Bruce’s discography (1987’s Tunnel Of Love). It also reminds me of a lot of other Reagan-era baby-boomer rock, like solo Don Henley or John Cougar Mellancamp-type of stuff. It’s a tricky thing for an indie band to adopt a sound that’s so inherently uncool, but I think lead singer/songwriter/producer Adam Granduciel pulls it off by embracing that “coolness” isn’t nearly as affecting as sincerity or grandeur, which this album has in spades.
Favorite Tracks: “Red Eyes”, “An Ocean In Between The Waves”, “Burning”