The War On Drugs-Lost in the Dream
Philadelphia-based band The War On Drugs has been steady on the indie rock scene since their debut full-length album in 2008, Wagonwheel Blues. After founding member Kurt Vile left to pursue a solo career, lead singer Adam Granduciel formed several new lineups and followed up with 2011’s critically acclaimed Slave Ambient.
With a seemingly never-ending winter having been cast upon the Midwest this year, Granduciel has managed to present an album full of drowsy, ambient stretches of instrumental reminiscent of road tripping on a hazy summer day.
Despite the presentation of the songs, one look at the track listing and it’s evident the content is not as light and airy as the instrumentation itself. With song names like “Red Eyes,” “Suffering,” and “The Haunting Idle,” it’s not surprising this album was made at a strange time in Granduciel’s life. After extensive touring for Slave Ambient, he went back to Philadelphia and after a break-up early on in the recording process, he has said he felt “isolated” while preparing this album.
Lost In The Dream starts off with the almost nine minute long track “Under Pressure.” Nearly every song on the album is over five minutes long, with the opening track being the longest. With steady beats and expounding synthesizers, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Following it is the fuller “Red Eyes,” a reverb-soaked track with an echoing bridge that picks up the pace after the lengthy opener.
The latter half of the album begins with the standout track off Lost In The Dream, “Eyes To The Wind.” It’s a light, breezy melody contrasted by lyrics that perhaps sum up best what Granduciel was feeling when he wrote this album (I’m just a bit run down here at the moment/Yeah, I’m all alone here, living in darkness). Vocally, it is Granduciel’s shining moment of the album, with less synthetic tweaks and a pure representation of his voice that is slightly reminiscient of Tom Petty. A landscaping instrumentation at the end of the song wraps it all up and puts the track in the perfect package of honest lyrics, beautiful melodies and raw vocals.
Following “Eyes To The Wind” is the “The Haunting Idle,” a fitting title for a dark, fully instrumental track. The album is rounded out with another shining moment, “In Reverse.” A dreamy intro slowly flows into lyrics that alternate between seeming optimistic (“When I’m done with my time here/I’m going to keep going) and contrastingly more down (“Sometimes I wait for the cold wind/As I struggle with myself). A steady drumbeat keeps the melody going, and yet again Granduciel’s vocals shine through any instrument.
Lost In The Dream is Granduciel putting his heart on his sleeve for the sake his art. With lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation reminiscent of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and even at times Bob Dylan, this album is a journey of honest emotion and expansive instrumental breaks. This is an album meant to be listened to from start to finish, as there is a story to be followed and explored with Granduciel. He perfectly connects each song to the next, creating a masterful and carefully crafted piece of work. It may be early in 2014, but Lost In The Dream that is undoubtedly a contender for one of the top albums of the year.