Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Look At Lost In The Dream From The War On Drugs

Like some weird mix of Daniel Lanois and FM Cornog of East River Pipe, Adam Granduciel, better known as the man behind The War on Drugs, channels and chronicles the lonely spaces of the American continent. This is music best appreciated on a car stereo, late at night, driving down a highway in search of somewhere to pull off and get coffee. The music on Lost in the Dream, out now on Secretly Canadian, is affecting and haunting.

On this new record, Granduciel has refined the approach he used on 2011's masterful Slave Ambient. The tunes now seem more holistic, of a similar mind, with less clutter. "Suffering" echoes 1980s Zimmerman tunes with Lanois-esque touches throughout. I'd even go so far as to say there's a hint of Van the Man here. "Disappearing", like a few cuts here, has nods in the direction of U2's The Unforgettable Fire record -- those rolling, gentle drumbeats like Larry Mullen's brushwork on "A Sort of Homecoming" in spots. Tunes like "The Haunting Idle" expand, with the guitar noise rippling out like Robert Fripp on a David Sylvian cut. Even opener "Under The Pressure", even with its somewhat odd hint of David Byrne's vocal delivery over the percussive beat, is more Dylan, Lanois, and even Tom Petty than anything else.

Still, those things being said, Granduciel has found some strange alchemy where he's managed to force-weld Radiohead with Tom Petty. To some that would sound like the stuff of nightmares but when he reins the songs back, Granduciel controls this beast and the effect is borderline sublime. It's forward-looking but with a certain noble sense of songcraft that harks back to those classic rock forefathers.

Let me put it this way: I might not put Lost in the Dream on the boombox for a day at the beach but, when the right mood hits, this record is gonna sound as good as Kid A or side 2 of The Joshua Tree.

Spin "Red Eyes" and catch the Tunnel of Love-era Bruce-isms and you'll see what I mean. Songs can't all be crowd-stirrers. Even the Boss stopped to pen stuff like "I'm on Fire".

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