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4/7: KUMD Album Review: The War On Drugs


Dreams are elusive things. Whether you recall every exact detail, or have a vague hazy recollection of their concept, dreams are meant to be grand and ethereal. Dreams are meant to be escapes. The aptly-titled third release from The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream, gives the listener that magnificent sense of journeying beyond the real into the fantastic. By Basement DJ: Nate Mechtel

The album's opening track, "Under the Pressure," dives into the very concept of entering into the timeless world of dreams. With sonic and distorted guitars, '80s style synth and sax, the lyrics invite you into frontman Adam Granduciel's concept of dreaming. His deeply vulnerable lyrics call out to the listener that "a dream like this gets wasted, without you". This nine minute opener track sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album. The follow up single, "Red Eyes," picks up the pace. With a tight drum backing and solid minute and a half build, the track then explodes with a rock and roll guitar solo that lights up the soul in the way only rock guitar solos can.

The mood and style is consistent throughout the album. Whether they be focused rock anthems like "An Ocean Between the Waves" or "Burning" or the slower jams and ballads like "Eyes to the Wind", "In Reverse" or the title track "Lost in the Dream" you can expect each song to have dreamy synthesizers, soulfully sung vocals and wonderful guitar and saxophone arrangements throughout.

The War on Drugs receive much comparison to Bruce Springsteen and rightly so. The emotionally isolated content of their lyrics as well as their use of synthesizer, guitar solos, fast drumming, and blasting sax/harmonica, really reveal their '80s influence. They however teeter on the edge of indie rock and psychedelia as well, never forgetting that underneath all the sounds they are a guitar-focused band. Lyrically, Granduciel writes in a stream of consciousness, while giving out lines of pure expression of sorrow and anxiety contrasting the warm welcoming embrace of all the instrumentation. He paints a picture of his inner insecurities, mixed with surreal landscapes and images that only his dreams provide.

Some could say that The War on Drugs are truly lost in their own world. However, the songs are too well crafted to complain. Lost in the Dream is truly a conscious escape into someone's personal sleeping universe, and in the end, it is the kind of dream you don't want to wake up from.

RIYL: Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Bruce Springsteen, Angel Olsen, Darkside, Mutual Benefit
Recommended tracks: Red Eyes, Under the Pressure, Eyes to the Wind, An Ocean Between the Waves, Burning