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This review is from: Lost In The Dream (Audio CD)
It feels like we had to wait too long for “The War on Drugs” next record “Lost in the dream”. The quality of “Slave Ambient” also created a certain expectation. Then with a smile on my face I can say the band has delivered an album with sixty minutes of great music and is totally worth the anticipation.
Adam Graduciel wrote the songs for after the relationship with his girlfriend broke up. In many songs he tells and sings about the suffering, the feelings, the doubts but also his contemplation and the hope. With this info you could and would expect an hard, dark album, but that’s just not the case. It’s a rather uplifting, still hopeful and cheerful record with excellent, full music. Somehow the contradiction within the record is that although most lyrics could be described as down-lifting, the music is up-lifting.
“Lost in the Dream”: Gone are instrumental parts/songs that felt a little like fillers. A Dylanasque laconic style of singing is present. A dreamy touch is present. Proper sonic textures, accents, changes and nuances are present. Songs born from a soundscape are present. Some Yeah's' en 'Woohoo's' outbursts are present. Music that pushes your forward is present. Distinctive drums are present. A wealth of details is present.
Opening track “Under the pressure” starts with a strange drum sound that makes you think something went wrong with the production or something is wrong with your stereo. But no, it is a clatter of electronic cymbals. Quickly enough it floats into this great, long track. You immediately realize why you were waiting for this record all the time. During the song there are subtle changes of speed, subtle changes of mood and subtle changes of style all put together into this one, most excellent song. At the end you realize the track is a summary of the best of its predecessor “Slave Ambient”. The song is so clever, so rich with changes in details and secretly building up to a climax that you will accept that after the climax the song ends with a kind of fade out of three minutes. What a track!
The single “Red Eyes” perfectly fits with the style of “Brothers” (the faster version) and “Coming Through”: strong acoustic guitar as the basis. “Suffering” is a slow ballad definitely not in the traditional way. No surprise, because we are listening to The War on Drugs. It takes a few turns to like the song, because we are not used to a ballad by this band, especially when the song shares the writers suffering of a broken relationship. But add a Pink Floyd-style slow saxophone to the song and maybe you have the picture: sitting on couch beside Adam, putting your arm around his shoulder to comfort him, to tell him it is going to be alright.
For two songs it is like where to go and maybe one or two minutes could have been left out. But then “Eyes to the wind” is the sound of hope and the sound of re-finding yourself. With a strong acoustic guitar as the basis of the song structure has a small hint of ELO in their best days, but without orchestra. It marks the change in the record from a somehow darker first half into a more resigned and elated second part of the record. It's like we are told that we don't have to worry: everything is going to be alright. “Slave Ambient” provided instrumental sections that sometimes felt like using them to fill it up. On “Lost in the dream” those kind of sections have perfectly melted within the songs themselves. “The haunting Idle” is the only instrumental, it’s the (indeed) haunting warm-up for ‘Burning’
The style, the mood and the atmosphere of “Lost in the dream” record fits very well with “Slave Ambient”, but it is definitely not a copy. On the contrary: in the last few months I have asked myself the question how the band could follow-up the strong “Slave Ambient” The only right answer by “The War on Drugs” is to come with an even stronger and superior one.
“Lost in the dream” is an excellent mix of ambient and Americana. The record is a triumph.