The more things change, the more they stay the same for The War on Drugs. With enough time having passed to reflect on both the cataclysmic success of their 2014 breakthrough ‘Lost in the Dream’, and their GRAMMY-clinching follow-up, ‘A Deeper Understanding’, the band - and specifically, frontman Adam Granduciel - can no longer reasonably lay claim to the tag of plucky underdog that their hard-knocks gestation in Philadelphia once afforded them. Like ‘A Deeper Understanding’, ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ cleaves closely to the concept of not fixing what isn’t broken, but unlike that last album, Adam no longer appears content to trade in emotional vagaries; here, he turns his gaze inwards, gently, empathetically. A new father, having welcomed a son named after his hero, Bruce Springsteen, the concept of lineage cuts across the record; he’s both wistful and hopeful on the anthemic ‘Old Skin’ and the soft acoustics of ‘Rings Around My Father’s Eyes’. He has one eye on his own life, but also on where it is he sits relative to the idols that have gradually become his contemporaries. Elsewhere, fans of the songwriter’s lush reinterpretations of his classic rock influences will not be disappointed: ‘Harmonia’s Dream’ handsomely summons the freewheeling six-string swell of old, while ‘Victim’ is ambitious, putting synths front and centre. The War on Drugs are reliable - not in the sense that they’re workhorses, but more in that Adam’s years-long close study of guitar rock has now evidently become an incontestable mastery.
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