The Philadelphia rock scene is famous for producing indie bands heavily dosed on vintage, classic rock. Folker Kurt Vile recalls Bob Dylan and neo-psychedelia band Dr.Dog draws upon Big Star. You probably know Vile from when he packed all the “Best Of” lists last year with his critically-acclaimed masterpiece Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, and you've probably heard Dr.Dog’s rootsy tunes on Spotify’s Avett Brothers station once or twice, but they’re definitely not as revered as Vile.
Philadelphia rock is blowing up again, this time with The War On Drugs. TWOD - the indie rock/dream pop/folk project of Adam Granduciel (Kurt Vile was even once a band member) - have just released their third full-length, entitled Lost In The Dream. At just over an hour, it fuses awe-inspiring, 1980s-sounding rock music with really depressing, yet poetic lyrics.
“Under The Pressure” opens with echoing high-hat clicks, then launches into a steady beat with a C# major to B major chord progression - which is all topped off with Granduciel’s raspy, Tom Petty-ish voice. Besides saddening, yet evocative lines like, “Lying in a ditch/Pissing in the wind/Lying on my back/Loosening my grip/Wading in the water/Just trying not to crack, ” the song is actually upbeat.
After the reverb-heavy, new wavey lead single “Red Eyes” comes the laid-back “Suffering.” I call it a breather track because it calms the energy given off from the previous two tracks, but that doesn’t take away from the song’s great quality. Once again, Granduciel gets both gloomy and vivid, singing, “I'm not trying to hear you killing your goal/Means I can be bigger than the tones/In the moment of suffering/Like a feeling that you gave me/Like a snowflake through the fire, babe/I'll be frozen in time.”
“Burning” appears later on the album. It starts with a synthesizer intro, similar to the retro electronica of Johnny Jewel. Compared to “Under The Pressure” and “Suffering,” “Burning” is more hopeful lyrically, especially when Granduciel croons, “Wide awake/I rearrange the way I listen in the dark/Dreaming of starting up again.”
The War On Drugs’ mighty 10-songer makes you let go of reality and become one with the music. The title Lost In The Dream references Granduciel’s immense state of depression and paranoia from after going on tour, but it also accurately captures the overall essence of the album: getting lost in a beautiful, transcendental, rock n’ roll dream.
9.3 / 10
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