'Under the Pressure', 'Red Eyes'

Music Review

In 2008, The War on Drugs, founded by best mates Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, released their debut album, ‘Wagonwheel Blues‘, and it announced The War on Drugs as not just an average radio-friendly band that wanted to headline football stadiums, but a classic-rock infused ensemble created great road-trip music. Even if Granduciel‘s lead vocals did sound a lot like Bob Dylan.

But, in 2009 Vile left to create basically the same sounding music, but as a solo artiste. He has drawn a fair amount of plaudits and has been Wakin on a Pretty Daze since. The War on Drugs continued nonetheless creating two more albums to date. Since their separation, Vile has been happier than Pharrell Williams, but Granduciel crumbled mentally, getting lost in the haze of angst.

Their new release, ‘Lost in the Dream‘, is essentially the personified diary of Granduciel, as he parachutes from anxiety and crash lands into deep depression. Musically, ‘Lost…‘ is the illegitimate 1970s lovechild of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen that has finally come of age, grown a David Seaman-style ponytail, and hitchhiked across America with a fifth of Jack Daniels, after stealing a pair of fingerless gloves from a tramp.

Lost in the Dream‘ is definitely not one for the light-hearted, casual listener – the album consists of ten songs, with only three clocking in under five minutes, with three songs bordering the eight-minute mark. Despite this, it’s a surprisingly easy listen – acoustic guitars and pianos entwine with the occasional synth and the aforementioned Dylan-esque vocals, to create a smooth-running, sweet-sounding album that juxtaposes with Granduicel‘s mental state to create an affectionate sound that actually sounds more uplifting than it does melancholic.

Standout track ‘Red Eyes‘ sees Granduciel pine “I would keep you here, but I can’t” and in the process, ambiguously encapsulate the broken soul that Granduciel projects through ‘…Dream’. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Lost in the Dream‘ has a huge dad-rock sound to it, but it still remains cool – ‘Lost…‘ makes Bruce Springsteen look,  and sound, like Barry Manilow.

It’s not exactly avant garde, but ‘Lost in the Dream‘ fits perfectly into that ‘depression makes you creative’ cliché, with Granduciel‘s parania and emotional distress being key ingredients in the making of this album. Like I mentioned earlier, The War on Drugs make great road-trip music, and with ‘Lost in the Dream‘ playing in the car, you’ll never want to stop driving.