How is it that I never got around to reviewing this album? Was it because it came out during that two month period on the blog in between Criterion months, where we were all a bit too exhausted to write about anything? Was it because we talked about it on that end-of-summer wrap-up podcast, and that was review enough? Or was it because this album is ultimately an uninteresting one to write about, because it’s somehow great and unsurprising at the same time? Well, we’ll see about that last one, but I’m gonna say it’s probably a combination of all three.
The War On Drugs’ break-out album, 2014’s Lost In The Dream, was something of a quiet masterpiece. Comparisons were drawn to the heartland rock of the ’80s, while creating a sound that was far more atmospheric and cut quite a bit deeper than most of the artists it was compared to. Three years later, not much has changed with The War On Drugs’ sound, and that’s perfectly ok. Sometimes after a truly great record, an artist doesn’t have to do much in the way of topping themselves if what they’re already doing is unique and singular enough. And I’d say there haven’t really been any other artists who’ve come close to replicating both the expansiveness and the introspection that lies at the heart of The War On Drugs’ sound.
Also, it’s not like lead Drug Warmonger Adam Granduciel is half-assing it here either. As I said, the songs have that same synthy smoothness while guitars whimper and fade, while every once in a while you hear Granduciel’s emphatic, let’s just call them “rock shouts”, lead into an epic guitar solo. As you could probably guess, this isn’t the kind of album we’re I’ve gone to the trouble of remembering literally any of the song titles. But that’s because this album is less about individual songs, and more about a grander narrative, filled with peaks and valleys and the overall feeling of coming to a deeper understanding of why we feel the way we do.
Favorite Tracks: “Holding On”, “Strangest Thing”, “In Chains”