New Music: The War On Drugs – Lost In A Dream

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In 2003, guitarist and frontman Adam Granduciel met singer-songwriter Kurt Vile when he moved from California to Pennsylvania. In 2005 they performed together under the blanket of The War On Drugs. Following the bands 2008 release Wagonwheel Blues, Vile departed to focus on a solo career. Lost In A Dream is the unintentional product of a dark and isolated period of Granduciel’s life, starting a year and a half ago after the breakdown of his relationship. Months of severe depression and anxiety cumulated into Lost, which was released this week.

It’s not your usual cut n’ dry indie pop record, not for one moment. While it’s very easy to pounce upon the obvious influences of Dylan and Springsteen, and the allusions to a bygone era of political and moving americana – it’s also deeply contemporary. As well as the timeless country/folk vibe injected with Granduciel’s Dylan-esque inflection, tracks like Disappearing and The Haunting Idle ebb and flow with clean cut, stirring synth beds. It’s a sound born out of an admiration of the greats and an awareness of the times.

It’s a humbling piece as a whole, combining shoegazy soundscapes and timeless lyricism; “You were raised on a promise/But found that over time/You better come around to the new way/Or watch as it all breaks down” bemoans Granduciel in Under The Pressure, a lyric which we can all identify with on various levels. Renewal is also a central feature, a sense of trying to be better is reinforced in An Ocean On Between The Tides, a track which is carried by some immense guitar and a profound use of metaphors. Red Eyes is a clear stand out, utterly dreamy and emotive, emblazoned with soul and character. This is one of the charms of the record, it has something we can all find some kind of spiritual connection with. According to Granduciel, all the tracks began as an idea, and grew organically while on his own in his home studio, where he claims to have spend hours and days adding layers of synths and softening drum loops, only to scrap the whole thing and go back to the demo.

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If Lost In A Dream was an accident, then it is a superb mistake. An entirely organic record which feels like a glittering high of an already stellar career and back catalogue. In an interview with the Village Voice Granduciel states he “wasn’t trying to make [the album] about why all of a sudden I would get this wave sensation and feel complete despair for two hours” he was trying to create something brave and new, to push the boundaries of his own soundscapes and be more than just a frontman, however his own difficult experiences are so much part of the record it’s entirely unavoidable. It’s the epitome of modern americana; folk meets synth, Tom Petty meets Bon Iver. The music and lyrics work in complete harmony that creates something both incredibly personal, and highly accessible. A mesmerising piece that is sure to stand the test of time.

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