What does it sound like?:
A natural extension to Lost In The Dream certainly, but The War On Drugs’ new album has been 3 years in the making, and at times it shows it; a little too laboured, a little too much like how you knew it was going to be. But for all that it’s a damn fine album. Adam Granduciel’s songwriting is more honed – these are more like songs in the traditional sense, rather than the meandering soundscapes that have defined earlier work. Washes of synth are balanced with some fine guitar work – it’s kind of obvious when the reverb drenched guitar solos are coming, but it doesn’t really matter when they are this good. Tracks from the album have been available online for a while, but it helps to hear the whole thing in the right order. The centrepiece track, Thinking Of A Place is very long, but top notch, and there are other fine examples here too – Strangest Thing, In Chains, and especially Pain, a song that does exactly what you want it to do at the right moment, unleashing torrents of reverb, but an exercise in restraint too.
What does it all *mean*?
The great American guitar album is not dead. There are echoes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, even Ryan Adams aplenty, and this is a traditional sounding piece of work for all its now-ness – but hey, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. At 65 minutes it overstays its welcome a little, and I’ve seen a review elsewhere that suggests that this is the kind of music that punk was invented as an antidote to. It’s hard to see where Adam Granduciel will take his band next, without it becoming a parody of itself. But for now, this is just what the doctor ordered after Lost In The Dream, and may even pip it at the post. Album of the year contender.
Goes well with…
Play it back to back with Lost In The Dream, and it fits just right. Play it with the top down while cruising through Hemel Hempstead and you could be in L.A. or pretty much anywhere you want to be.
Might suit people who like…
Geetar reverb, and pretending that we are still living in the 1970s.