Looking forward, looking back
The War on Drugs is a four-piece indie rock ensemble that features Adam Granduciel as both the lead singer and guitarist, David Hartley on bass guitar, Robbie Bennett on keyboards, Anthony LaMarca on keyboards and backing vocals, Jon Natchez on keyboards and saxophone and lastly, Charlie Hall on drums. They’re known for their dad rock persona, heavy-hitting guitar reverbs and their 2017 Grammy award-winning album, A Deeper Understanding. With their roots in Philadelphia, and now their members being spread throughout the U.S., this has clearly not dissuaded the band from releasing their fifth album since starting in 2008.
Their new album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, features 10 songs with strong introductions, heavy forward-facing vocals, interlacing instrumentals and a melodic reflection into both Adam Granduciel’s past and future.
In the first song on the album, “Living Proof,” the lyrics strongly hint at a sort of transformation and reflection into the inklings of a past that is now, faithfully, being left behind. The first sounds of a rolling guitar are then met with the sounds of a melodic piano to help incorporate into a slow build-up that is hopeful, beautiful, complex and somber; all allowing Granduciel’s rustic voice and reflective lyrics to shine through.
“Harmonia’s Dream” is a tune worth listening to over and over. The beat is infectious and makes one want to do a full dance solo in their private bedroom. Ethereal, upbeat and pronounced, this song is almost reminiscent of the Strokes with the upbeat tunes of Vampire Weekend all mixed in with The War on Drugs rugged, upbeat charm.
In “Change,” the idyllic spacey guitar reverbs with heavy rhythmic drum beats instinctively make one hopeful for new seasons to arrive. This song is perfect for people’s daily or weekly mini road trip through your hometown for the quick semi-breather. Whether true or not, this song makes us feel the desperation to fight for the ones we’ve loved or lost.
“I Don’t Wanna Wait” invokes the heavy mystical introductions from Pearl Jam’s Ten introductory song “Once” with an ’80s hairspray contemporary twist. The song finishes off with a strong guitar solo with once again a heavy amount of reverb and loads of distortion.
“Wasted” reminds people of why they love to hear rock, especially live. Whether intended or not, the song seems as if it transports listeners directly to hearing vocals in person, up close, personal, with Adam Granduciel singing his damn heart out.
Fans of the Killers, Vampire Weekend, Kings of Leon and the Strokes will find particular nostalgia within these indie album walls, especially in songs such as “Harmonia’s Dream” and “Change.” I Don’t Live Here Anymore is an album that takes a few listens for its beauty to sink in, but once it does, it might be the sort of hopefulness one’s looking for. After the hard-hitting blues of COVID, perhaps this is the album people will be pulling on repeat.