The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
On first listen, there was something a little disappointing about Lost In The Dream. Don’t get me wrong: Lead single “Red Eyes” was an instant Drugs classic, and “Under The Pressure” is one of the great openers out there — one of those songs that feels like a new world being revealed to you. But the ethereal web of synths and looped interstitials and way-out-there guitars of Slave Ambient had been muted. Lost In The Dream still had traces of that psychedelia, but the whole thing felt more lived-in, road-worn. More earthly, in a sense. It felt more like a classic rock record. Three or four listens in, such concerns fell away. It became clear that the stylistic shift for Lost In The Dream might’ve been the best possible move to make after the fervently received but not-quite-breakthrough of Slave Ambient. It became clear that the War On Drugs had another stunning record on their hands.
In 2014, we watched War On Drugs blow up to a new level of indie fame. (Or, considering Adam Granduciel graced the pages of Us Weekly with his new girlfriend Krysten Ritter, I guess it was a new level of plain old fame.) Unfortunately, that was partially in the form of a one-sided spat with Mark Kozelek. Otherwise, though, it was the band getting a lot of widespread adoration they’d long deserved. Lost In The Dream felt important in a year where there was no real narrative to be found, no overwhelming Yeezus moment leaving carnage in its wake. Lost In The Dream is still here at the end of the year, but it will be with us for much longer, too. It sounds very much like the Pennsylvania in which it was created, with all the state’s crumbling factories and formerly-grand-now-decrepit stone buildings: some strange psychedelic portrait of Americana and memory. This is what a hundred rides down a highway sound like when you’re loaded down with the perceptual mess of decades of highway mythology. This is what a classic American record sounds like in 2014. It’ll stick around. –Ryan [LISTEN]