Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Album Review - The War On Drugs - Lost In A Dream

Album Rating: A-
Americana is a phenomena I’ve always wanted to be a part of; a boiling pot of genre and style it screams liberty, justice and freedom, which I can say as a born and bred Englishmen, the overcast London lifestyle pales in comparison. And that’s what Lost In A Dream cumulates to, it’s music rooted in States culture projecting a sensory experience which will be homely to some and a inciting venture for many this side of the pond. As this Philadelphia four piece’s third album without the contribution of War on Drugs alum and dimensional wanderer Kurt Vile, I can’t help but feel this has sharpened their sound as well as their peripheries, like opening a window and letting the stale haze of the previous night drift out — Lost In A Dream is a record rich in fresh outlooks, taking one’s head out of the sand and basking in the warm glow of resolve.
Forged in the depths of frontman Adam Granduciel’s melancholy, Lost In A Dream does well in itself providing juxtaposing song titles with uplifting vibes since each song acts as a prescription for the downtrodden whether ailed by fatigue, fractured romances or loneliness. Opening track ‘Under The Pressure’ introduces skitty effects and a reinvigorated and jaunty vocal performance from Granduciel but that’s not to say the song’s foundations are supported by gimmick or fleeting intonations, quite the contrary. A testament to Granduciel’s songwriter is his focus and deliberation over the core elements of a enrapturing song, something I felt Vile overlooked in his last release. Melody and hook are boldly placed front and centre, not cloaked by obnoxious reverb or trifled effect gimmicks like on the sun-kissed and sprightly single ‘Red Eyes’ which although the shortest (not including instrumentals) and most immediate track on the LP, still leaves enough room to be indulged in numerous times as it reeks of camaraderie and the closely nostalgic feeling of foggy heads on crisp mornings.

In regards to length, with 10 tracks in tow with a generous handful quaking at the six minute and beyond mark, I can fully vouch for the case that’s its a justified time scale. Lost In A Dream is a record to mull over, to sit back and engage with, not just an arbitrary selection of tracks. An experience to revel and immersive yourself within, something I feel that couldn’t be possible without Lost In A Dream stretching itself out but by no means thin. The longer tracks provide space to contemplate, a theme embedded deep in this album; it’s a lesson in patience and taking time for shimmering reflection.

But that’s not to say this is a passive 60 minutes. The elevating dynamics than fortify a lot of these tracks are not so much build-up and releases but fuel injections of swell signposted by Granduciel’s trademark ‘WOO!,’ A personal touch which casts aside any pretentious presuppositions we had of this band. And the authenticity doesn’t stop there, channeling the true spirit of Americana, Lost In A Dream is rife with Mark Knopfler and various Classic Rock touches and even a grandiose guitar solo to close ‘An Ocean in Between The Waves.’ The throwbacks are a welcome addition to a landscape of music sedimented by ephemeral ambition. ‘Eyes to the Wind’, for example, is a captivating appearance from 60s folk influence in the true spirit of the Greenwich Village refashioned for a 2014 audience.

Lost In A Dream is doused in so many gleeful idiosyncrasies built off the spring board of sullen experiences vindicating an incandescent perspective which seeps into the bones of the whole piece. Showcased in the sun-beat and unfettered valiance of ‘Burning’ or the grounded optimism of title track ‘Lost In A Dream.’
The line that stood out to me after my first listen and resonated more than it should have is encased within closing track ‘In Reverse:’ ‘I don’t mind you disappearing/because I know you can be found.’ Confidence cemented by experience, Lost In A Dream is suited for the empathetic and adventurous. Not a sprint but a dizzy saunter down desert highways, kicking up dust as the Arizona sun beats down. An album dedicated to looking forward, keeping your head up with a steadfast hope that everything will work out, because it always does.


Track List:
1) Under the Pressure
2) Red Eyes
3) Suffering
4) An Ocean Between The Waves
5) Disappearing
6) Eyes to the Wind
7) The Haunting Idle
8) Burning
9) Lost in the Dream
10) In Reverse

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