Yes, The Boss’ fingerprints are all over ‘Lost In The Dream’ but the reality of what War on Drugs do is a lot more intricate – of course Granduciel cherry picks from American classic rock, not least Springsteen, Petty and Dylan, but he also manages to reference My Bloody Valentine, The Cure and Neu. Which is to say this is classic rock through a krautrock lens. Motorik Springsteen, if you will.
Previous album ‘Slave Ambient’ seemed to push The War on Drugs on to a new level: ‘Lost In A Dream’ takes them even higher. From the misty cover to the dreamy rhythms and hazy melodies, it’s an album that lives up to its title.
Opener ‘Under The Pressure’ is what The War On Drugs do best – a sprawling road trip song, the sound of the open road and echoey lyrics about illusions and lines like ‘when it all breaks down and we’re runaways’. ‘Red Eyes’ could nearly be a hidden gem from The Suburbs – it’s a slice of suburban new wave synth greatness, exploding into life with a chest-thumping ‘woo’.
The recording was completed between non-stop touring and that sense of movement is there; it’s those steam engine rhythms on ‘An Ocean In Between the Waves’, that reproachful voice (‘Suffering’ is beautifully vulnerable), those layers that build up. It can become a bit wig out heavy, sprawling becoming a bit too blustery, but it’s a journey you want to stay with.
Distances have been travelled: ‘Eyes to the Wind’ is the centrepiece; The War On Drugs at their simplest but most effective, an epiphany in an album about confusion. ‘I’ll set my eyes to the wind, but it won’t be easy to live again … There’s just a stranger living in me’.
Lost in the Dream, then, is an album full of reflections, Granduciel trying to capture memories and moments. These are widescreen hymns to a hazy vision of Americana America. And despite all the doubts and the self-admonishing, in a strange way you won’t find a more affirming album all year.
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