You Will Be Found
Lost In The Dream, the latest from The War on Drugs, offers up a larger, more polished take on the band’s 2011 masterpiece, Slave Ambient. That album’s blend of laid back Americana, hazy and ethereal synthesizers and Adam Granduciel’s breezy Dylanesque chanting gave the world a new standard on which to judge a genre not always known for the most intriguing and colorful sonic palettes. On Lost, they build on that in an extraordinary way.
Granduciel and his band have crafted on this album, the first TWOD record without a Kurt Vile contribution, an updated Americana derived from the extracts of the likes of Tom Petty, The Boss and Dire Straits. There are moments where it seems they might go “So Far Away” into “Human Touch” territory, but they rein it in, creating their own path. The ingredients have not changed much since 2011; there’s just more of them.
From the opener “Under The Pressure,” with its array of warm synthesizer pads, piano hooks, baritone saxophone and tremolo guitars, it is immediately obvious that just because this record is more polished it does not mean Granduciel and crew sacrificed songwriting. The band still has that ability to contain, ever so slightly, dozens of wispy instrument parts into songs structured enough to sound tight and disciplined with great hooks and melodies without ever getting as confined as Petty or Springsteen.
“Red Eye” was a great choice for the album’s first single. It serves as a catchy, uplifting and perfect transition from Slave to Lost. The song has a driving beat and an explosive chorus not unlike something from Born In The U.S.A., but with a spacey, atmospheric bridge to temper the mood a bit before bringing the listener back to the party. It is simply a brilliant song. The album further hews toward delicate arrangements that manage to rock with genuine affirmations and almost spiritual qualities, becoming progressively more uplifting and contemplative until it reaches the title song, beautiful art that is the closest on the record to a classic Americana song.
Closer “In Reverse” is the masterpiece of Lost In The Dream. The first half of the song is a meditative blend of guitar and synthesizer parts that fade in and out over a sample of waves crashing on a beach, over which a subtle acoustic guitar and strummed, chorused and phaser-ed electric guitars slowly make their introductions to the listener. Granduciel soulfully sings over this loose arrangement in a quasi-prayerful tone until he reaches the lines, “And I don’t mind you disappearing/ Cuz I know you can be found.” At that point, the full band comes in and the chords on the piano combine with all the elements to set up the listener for an uplifting conclusion to a record that for ten songs, in its own beautifully serene way, has been preparing us for the idea that when we take a second to breathe and reflect we can emerge better people.