Adam Granduciel, the frontman for The War on Drugs, has married two different but distinctive elements of the band’s first two albums for the band’s latest release. Ambient landscapes merge with shimmering 1980s prog-rock and singer/songwriter balladry reminiscent of Laurel Canyon musicians of the 1970s. The resulting output features ten songs that ebb and flow for an hour, glorious waves of undulating melodies punctuated by vocals that sound more like emotional release than linear thoughts.
Ganduciel began writing songs following a romantic break-up, an event that may have influenced the emotional direction of the album but not in a direct lyrical sense. Granduciel’s songs have a more general discontent attached to them, like a dream that, in waking hours seems illogical and yet the emotional aftermath is undeniable. Something of import has been conveyed. Lost In the Dream is both personal and universal. Depending on your emotional state, the lost dream can be read as a positive loss of self, or a negative loss of something larger, a promise of things to come.
Granduciel creates a dream-like musical landscape where songs roll into each other, blurring the edges of beginnings and ends, once again, as dreams moved fluidly from one image to another.Long instrumental beginnings become songs that then fade into a new song (consciousness). There are many musical references throughout. The opening song “Under the Pressure” sounds like an outtake from Roxy Music’s classic album Avalon, while Granduciel’s vocals are reminiscent of Dylan circa Oh Mercy. At other times he seems to be channeling Tom Petty, as on “An Ocean in Between the Waves. At other times The Cure, or Arcade Fire are brought to mind. And yet it is the blending of these sounds that creates the band and this album’s unique identity. My advice for listening to this album – lay back in your most comfy chair, put on your headphones, and ignore the world for an hour.
Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)