The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

Double Album 2LP Vinyl Records + Digital Download

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Lost In The Dream is the third studio album by American indie rock band The War On Drugs, released in March 2014 via Secretly Canadian Records.

The War On Drugs was formed in Philadelphia in 2005 by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile. Vile left the band in 2009, during recording of their second album, to focus on his solo career. The band currently consists of Adam Granduciel (vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass), Robbie Bennett (keyboards), Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) and Anthony LaMarca (guitar), Charlie Hall (drums) re-joined the band in 2013. The bands albums have generally been received favourably by critics.

It’s hard to know what to make of a band called The War On Drugs. On the one hand, it could be a random name chosen with little actual meaning, or on the other, it could be some sort of statement about the government’s drug enforcement activity. Or, even less likely, it could allude to a war fought while on drugs. Nomenclatural implications aside, this Philadelphia five-some isn’t so much a band concerned with drugs as it is one to which listeners should raise their pints. This is American rock `n’ roll music, and as such, pairs well with a foamy pilsner, or barring that, a fifth of Jack.

Lost In The Dream’s recording sessions, which took place over a two-year period, was characterized by numerous rewrites. The album's lyrical theme were influenced by the loneliness and depression Granduciel faced after he finished touring. Musically, the record was inspired by 1980s rock, as well as Americana, with influences coming from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Spacemen 3 and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

Ever since the release of debut album in 2008, Philadelphia’s The War On Drugs have treated their album titles as a kind of shorthand for the stylistic techniques that colour those very albums. Wagonwheel Blues, for instance, heavily comprised ragged and rollicking roots-rock sounds - a natural complement to the hum of tires against the highway and the whirr of parched landscapes buzzing by. And 2011’s Slave Ambient was very literally named after an effect that Adam Granduciel had engineered through his amp set-up, creating a recurrent drone that gives the album more of a dense, shoegaze feel than its predecessor. Its mix of Springsteen-esque rock ‘n’ roll songwriting and heavily layered effects even prompted Under the Radar to coin a new term for such a sonic marriage: Bossgaze.

You can probably guess, even before giving any of its 10 tracks a spin, that third album, Lost In The Dream, is another recording whose mood and sonic make-up are succinctly summarised in those four words. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who soaked in the haze of its predecessor, which could have just as easily been called Lost In The Dream, itself. And as architects of dream-like sonic worlds go, Granduciel is a master, making even the grittiest of his tracks feel weightless. Even the album’s cover, which depicts Granduciel in his own house, looks like a hallucination.

As ethereal projections go, the ten on Lost In The Dream are epics. With three tracks spanning longer than seven minutes apiece, and the average song’s running time about twice that of those on its predecessor, Lost In The Dream isn’t an album in any particular hurry. Often Granduciel, who’s solely responsible for the bulk of what you hear on the album, will build up a dense cloud of song and hang out there for a while, allowing the listener to soak in the riches of the arrangement rather than anticipating where they might go next, even if their progression and build is more maximalist than minimalist in the grand scheme.

Settling into a groove for six or more minutes at a time only works when the songs are good, however, and Lost In The Dream features some of the best that Granduciel has written to date. In a mist of effects, in blows “Under The Pressure,” a nine-minute opening song, makes the most of its lengthy running time, fleshing out its verses with shimmering guitar licks, clearing space when it needs to, but never moving too far away from its hypnotic rhythm. It could keep going, consuming an entire LP side, and still be a 10, but as it ends it gives way to an even stronger track: first single “Red Eyes” By contrast, it’s build on a solid foundation of leslie piano and tension, breaking climactically as Granduciel lets out an unexpected “WHOO!” There’s a similar build with “An Ocean In Between The Waves”, but drawn out over a longer stretch of time, its heartland Krautrock gradually stacking even more layers over a compulsive beat. More begets more, and somehow evades ever seeming excessive.

The curious contrast of Lost In The Dream is that no matter how blissed-out The War On Drugs’ treatments are, even if in a minor key, there’s a feeling of anxiety and disintegrating hope at its center. Granduciel frequently finds himself either at a standstill, or tenuous about seeing it come to an end. He begrudgingly accepts change in “Under The Pressure,” and in pensive ballad “Suffering,” he’s already written off something that he knows isn’t working.

Given the apprehension that looms large on Lost In The Dream, it’s no particular mystery as to why one might choose to stay lost. Detouring through these landscapes feels much nicer than having to face harsh or uncomfortable realities. But they’re always on the periphery, creeping their way into what seems like a perfect and serene place. Sometimes it takes that added dose of bitterness and pain to provide the proper contrast that reveals just how beautiful something really is.

Check out the tracks: Red Eyes; Under The Pressure; Burning; Eyes To The Wind and An Ocean In Between The Waves.

This double LP on black vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves and a digital download code is pressed in the USA.

(656605031019)

Tracklisting:

 

 

Title

Time

A1

Under The Pressure

8:51

A2

Red Eyes

4:58

A3

Suffering

6:00

B1

An Ocean In Between The Waves

7:11

B2

Disappearing

6:49

C1

Eyes To The Wind

5:55

C2

The Haunting Idle

3:08

C3

Burning

5:46

D1

Lost In The Dream

4:08

D2

In Reverse

7:41

SKU 656605031019
Record Label Secretly Canadian
Label / Model # Inertia
Catalogue Number SC310
Country US - United States
Release Date (Year) 18 March 2014
Original Release Date (Year) 18 March 2014
Barcode # 656605031019
Shipping Weight 0.6000kg
Shipping Width 0.009m
Shipping Height 0.314m
Shipping Length 0.314m
Shipping Cubic 0.000887m3
Type New
Format Limited Edition Double Album 2LP Records, Black Vinyl, Gatefold Sleeve, Printed Inner Sleeves, Digital Download Card
Vinyl Colour Black
Genre Rock
Genre Indie Rock
Format VINYL LP

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