The War On Drugs are a band formed in Philadephia in 2005, fronted by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile. The latter left fairly quickly to pursue a solo career. And he has made some amazing records – perhaps the subject of a future blog. I saw The War On Drugs, minus Vile, two years ago at Latitude. I loved their meandering, spacey sound. It was Americana, sure enough, but with all sorts of other sounds flashing through my mind: Neil Young (of course), Pearl Jam, and even the Waterboys, for the way that the songs built slowly to a dramatic conclusion. They were promoting their album “Slave Ambient” at the time. I came back from Latitude and had to get it. It was good.
But the new album, “Lost In The Dream”, is even better. It came out in March this year. I read the reviews and bought it soon after. I played it and liked the vibe, but didn’t get too excited at first. But I felt there was something there, so it didn’t get filed in forget. And as I listened to it again – and again – I started to get hooked on the songs and realise that it was a brilliant album. Right now, I’m listening to it more than anything else. Some of the songs are big, with great guitar, and meandering riffs which conjure up images of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, even Dire Straits. The magnificent opener, “Under The Pressure”, is one of those. Check this live version.
But there are a whole load of beautiful, fragile ballads, with echoey guitar, which remind me, more than anything else, of Bob Dylan when he teamed up with Daniel Lanois and made the wonderful “Oh Mercy”. The title track is as good an example as any.
This is an American album to its core. You can feel the history. A beautiful, poignant album, with some awesome, sparkling guitar. Melancholy, uplifting. In a grand tradition.
The band is returning to Latitude this summer. It will be top of my list to see – along with Parquet Courts!