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Customer Review

41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The War on Drugs - Big Gold Dream, 17 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Lost In The Dream (Audio CD)
There is always a nervousness when a band returns to the fray after releasing a superb album. The last War on Drugs album, 2011's "Slave Ambient" was in this reviewers humble opinion the best thing to come out of rock music that year. To use a sprinting analogy, it was a sort of "musical Usain Bolt", always edging some very fine competition. With Adam Granduciel in the driving seat the band has a musician totally in command of his muse. It sees him accurately mix echoes of Springsteen with Can, of Petty with Neu and yet still produce a sound all of his own. Granduciel is also in a healthy competition with Kurt Vile, his Philadelphia comrade and former WOD member, that also seems to be pushing both musicians to scale new quality benchmarks. It is thus most pleasing to report that "Lost in a Dream" is every bit a match for its predecessor and a mighty album. The extra dimension is that it is also proudly a classic rock album something that certain commentators seem over ready to declare redundant.

The whole thing kicks off with a nine minute song "Under Pressure". Immediately all the WOD ingredients come together with a big build up, the melodically following guitar lines, a synthesised pause in the songs middle only for the song to return with extra power and fade out over waves of sound. An extra dimension on this new album is that Granduciel's vocals are now firmly up front in the mix. You finally realise what great singer he is, not least when the Dylanesque tones hits particularly on the lines "When it all breaks down, and we're runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain/And we stare straight into nothing/But call it all the same," The single "Red Eyes" that follows is pounding heartland rock which demands the windows rolled down and the volume turned up. Granduciel however slows down after the opening fireworks with the plaintive slow blues of "Suffering' one of his most personal and touching songs to date.

One highlight follows another. The pile driving guitars of the "Ocean in Between the Waves" is followed by the haunting "Disappearing" with hints of Buckingham/Nicks. It is one of the standouts "Eyes to the Wind" which trumps all these. After hearing this Springsteen, Dylan and Petty should camp outside the War on Drugs studio and refuse to leave until Granduciel agrees to collaborate with them. It is a fantastic lyrical song, that is completely addictive and worth the price of entry in its own right. Images are woven of "A cold wind blowing down my old road/Down the backstreets where the pines grow/Where the river splits the undertows". On the excellent track "Burning" the band open out again and throughout this does feel much more of a collective effort than previous releases not least with the sterling support of piano player Robbie Bennett. "In Reverse" rounds off the whole kit and caboodle. This is a song that starts off as drone until the vocal seeps in and builds to a suitably redemptive climax.

Throughout this record there are places where Granduciel whoops in delight at the way the songs come together and fit perfectly. He now has a guitar tone that is distinctly his and a sound that can pulverize the listener yet never be overbearing or bombastic. "Lost in the Dream" is a beautiful sonic mix of wounded lyricism combined with overpowering melody. At its best rock music should offer escape and the prospect of redemption, this album succeeds on all counts.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Mar 2014, 09:43:41 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 19 Mar 2014, 08:20:03 GMT
Sid Nuncius says:
Another great review, Rob. Thanks.

Posted on 19 Mar 2014, 20:25:03 GMT
Bungliemutt says:
An excellent review as ever RoB. Perhaps Mr Voucher, who seems keen to be a critic, will grace us with his first one?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2014, 10:59:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2014, 19:45:33 GMT
Red on Black says:
Sid many thanks for your very kind comments also posted in your own review.

Bungliemutt - Again good to hear from you and many thanks for the feedback. On Shopping Vulture I am sincerely touched by the sheer level of attention he is paying my scribbling's. I also look forward to him setting down his wise thoughts in more detail.

Cheers Rob

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2014, 14:40:19 BST
Annoymous says:
I have a question.
With a name like THE WAR ON DRUGS, is this band's name a satirical statement reflected in their lyrics, or some kind of right wing reactionaries doing their bit to keep Ronnie's doctrine alive. I've never heard of this band and am simply curious about their moniker and its reflection on the kind of lyrics they write.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2014, 12:32:55 BST
Last edited by the author on 12 Apr 2014, 12:34:27 BST
Red on Black says:
Martin it is neither serious or satirical. The origins of the name is set out on the bands Wiki page as follows. Plus in this reviewers humble opinion this album is the best of 2014 thus far. Cheers Rob

Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile began playing as The War on Drugs in 2005, self-releasing a demo EP. Regarding the band's name, Granduciel noted, "My friend Julian and I came up with it a few years ago over a couple bottles of red wine and a few typewriters when we were living in Oakland. We were writing a lot back then, working on a dictionary, and it just came out and we were like "hey, good band name" so eventually when I moved to Philadelphia and got a band together I used it. It was either that or The Rigatoni Danzas. I think we made the right choice. I always felt though that it was the kind of name I could record all sorts of different music under without any sort of predictability inherent in the name"

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2014, 18:09:01 BST
Last edited by the author on 12 Apr 2014, 18:17:05 BST
Annoymous says:
Red,
I was really looking for an opinion from a fan, I assume you are one. I'm still none the wiser. Anyway I think naming a band after a political statement of intent is lacking that enigmatic curiosity quality, but that's just my opinion. With such a blatant reference for a band name my originally stated curiosity seems to be just that, one of polarization pro or con.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2014, 16:42:54 BST
Red on Black says:
Martin - Im sorry but I have little to add. The name is clearly not a sign of a right wing political affiliation for the band, indeed you suspect that Granducial and Vile are not anti drug use and probably more left wing orientated. Equally you mention "Ronnie's doctrine". In fact the US foreign policy of a "war on drugs" was put in place by Nixon and rather unsuccessfully followed by every president since including Obama. Thus the name is a flag of convenience for this band and little else.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2014, 20:29:36 BST
Dr. Lee PhD says:
I think the name of the band, reflects a view on US policy making, as much as a certain Liverpudlian band wanted to comment on their favourite dancing insects.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2014, 21:37:54 BST
Annoymous says:
O.K fair enough, and hey the war on drugs or as it really is a war on humanity started long before Nixon....
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