The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient

Double Album 2LP Vinyl Records + Digital Download

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Slave Ambient is the second studio album by American indie rock band The War On Drugs, released in August 2011 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.

Recorded over three years, Slave Ambient is the final release to feature contributions from founding guitarist Kurt Vile and drummer Mike Zanghi, and the first to feature drummer Steven Urgo. The album was preceded by the EP, Future Weather, in 2010.

The band’s pursuit of richer textures and dreamier soundscapes on debut Wagonwheel Blues has escalated even further on Slave Ambient. That “Ambient” is actually part of the album’s title gives a certain indication into their artistic aims this time around. Frontman Adam Granduciel’s songwriting still centers on strong, soaring melodies, but ones that grow ever more intriguing and hypnotic via sheets of sonic embellishment. More than ever, the casual mentions of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth in reference to the band’s production hold a great deal of weight.

On a track like “Baby Missiles,” which reappears here in slightly altered form, the band approaches a towering, chaotic atmosphere, yet, the predominant mood on Slave Ambient is one of blissful melancholy. Everything is beautiful and dreamlike, suspending the listener in a kind of beautifully surreal state. Yet within that hallucinogenic state there’s more than a twinge of sadness. In opening track “Best Night,” for instance, the band crafts one of their most gently breathtaking compositions via aqueous effects and hypnotic, minor-key melodies, grounded by Granduciel’s laments. The sheer beauty of it all keeps the song from being a total bummer, but there’s more than a little pain and regret within its sonic euphoria, catalysed as catharsis rather than misery in need of company.

The War On Drugs underwent a series of lineup changes in the lead-up to Slave Ambient‘s release, most notably the departure of guitarist Kurt Vile to pursue a solo career. Slave Ambient primarily differs in that it’s a much bigger album, with seemingly simple tracks like the outstanding, lonesome-hearted “Brothers” made up of numerous, mesmerizing layers, resulting in one of the weirdest and most curiously charming arena rock albums to emerge in recent years. Even a more straightforward “rock” number like “Your Love Is Calling My Name” takes as many cues from the repetition-heavy grooves of Neu! as it does from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. And the invigorating “Come To The City” throbs like Spiritualized fronted by Bruce Springsteen, right down to Granduciel’s falsetto whoops.

Slave Ambient offers both hearstrung anthems for the earnest rockers and heady, multi-layered production for the shoegazers, though never at the expense of one another. The band creates perfect synergy, recontextualising two tried-and-true ideas into a unique sonic experience that’s as satisfying as it is immersive. The ear candy alone is a feat in itself, but The War On Drugs inject that with a palpable emotional gravity that makes this not just an extraordinarily well-dressed album, but a highly affecting one as well.

Check out the tracks: Baby Missiles; Come To The City and Best Night.

This double LP on black vinyl at 45 RPM with printed inner sleeves and digital download is pressed in the USA.








Best Nights






I Was There



Your Love Is Calling My Name



The Animator



Come To The City



Come For it



It’s Your Destiny



City Reprise #12



Baby Missiles



Original Slave



Black Water Falls


SKU 656605019017
Record Label Secretly Canadian
Label / Model # Inertia
Catalogue Number SC190
Country US - United States
Release Date (Year) 16 August 2011
Original Release Date (Year) 16 August 2011
Barcode # 656605019017
Shipping Weight 0.5200kg
Shipping Width 0.010m
Shipping Height 0.314m
Shipping Length 0.314m
Shipping Cubic 0.000985960m3
Type New
Format Limited Edition Double Album 2LP Records, Vinyl 45 RPM, Printed Inner Sleeves, Digital Download Card
Vinyl Colour Black
Genre Rock & Popular

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