I remember seeing the name The War on Drugs, and thinking to myself, ‘Woah, that’s so punk rock. Yeah, stick it to The Man…man!’. Then I tuned into ‘Baby Missiles’, and I became Mel-in-Flight-of-the-Conchords obsessed with the band. They had all these elements of psych-pop being bred into really bruised songs. The music floated by, but not without pinching and weeping the whole time. It was eclectic stuff, that managed to be soft as rainbow fluff and rough as Jason Statham at the same time.
Then I found out Kurt Vile used to be in the band, and it all became abundantly clear why my emotions where going through a therapy session run by The Terminator (Judgement Day edition, for those wondering). Now, it’s obvious that Kurt Vile has gone on to become one of the most revered indie musicians, but The War on Drugs have carved their own little niche.
Well that niche is about to expand into a fucking zeppelin, because the new record is pretty darn fantastic. Whilst Vile is long gone, Adam Granduciel has managed to let himself shine as a singer. ‘Lost In the Dream’ lives off of the winding, breezy tracks like dinosaurs lived off smaller dinosaurs. Listening to the album is a beautiful thing, and easy to lose yourself in, the densest indie rock forest since The National’s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’.
However, the voice…the voice! It soars off the palette of Granduciel, an indie rocker’s Picasso. Words drop out of his mouth and twine around the music like an endearing cat, and we all know how rare that is. Echoing whispers on ‘Disappearing’, strutting through the shimmering guitar on ‘Burning’, thrusting and agonising on ‘Red Eyes’…The man’s got his intonation’s down to say the least.
However, there is a problem with the album in that the songs kind of blend into one another. They twist on the themes of hurting, regret, and despair, and the music does a fantastic job of communicating that. But it can get tiresome after a while. There’s not too much wringing of the subject for the album to take the shape it could have. So, after you’ve finished listening to the second track ‘Red Eyes’ (which is undeniably amazing, and I’ll vasectomise anyone who disagrees), you can basically just sit back and let the rest of the album wash over you. There’s interesting parts, but nothing that altogether shifts the album into another gear, musically or lyrically. It’s not until the final track, ‘In Reverse’, when it seems like Granduciel is making an effort to show any confidence, rather than just be poetically wistful.
Don’t get me wrong, this album is great, but it’s not something that stands up and gives a message the same way that Kurt Vile can. The War on Drugs make beautiful music, but it’s like they’ve taken become a bit confused since ‘Baby Missiles’ brought them to my attention.