While the band’s name may be The War On Drugs, their music, which melds neo-psychedelics with a healthy dose of stoner rock, implies a much more lenient philosophy. However, for their newest album, Lost in the Dream — the follow-up to their exciting 2011 record, Slave Ambient — the Philadelphia indie rockers create a world that is very apropos to the title.
While one could say this dream theme is passed along through the family — their former member Kurt Vile released his awe-inspiring LP, Wakin On a Pretty Daze, last year — The War On Drugs stray from Vile’s lo-fi sound. Their music is expansive. It shines and glistens the whole way through, yet still leaves the listener feeling like they’re walking through a thick haze. To sum it up, the album is slacker meets traditional rock intertwined with folksy rhythms and shoegazey drones that mix and bloom into something very special, beautiful, and utterly dreamlike.
Throughout Lost in the Dream, singer Adam Granduciel’s vocals invokes the best of folk rock. It’s like Dylan was placed in an expansive psychedelic paradise. On the appropriately titled “An Ocean In Between The Waves,” Granduciel busts out the lyrics “I’m in my finest hour / can I be more than just a fool?” like he is lost in thought in an introspective dream. The track is heavy on the psychedelics, as it both melts and bursts, much like waves themselves.
The album’s excellent single “Red Eyes” is definitely one of its standout tracks, which is quite the compliment seeing that the album is full of majestic pieces. “Red Eyes” is explosive, yet remains chill and almost romantic thanks to its soothing, ethereal undertones. “Baby, you’re on my mind,” Granduciel sings. “Even if I lay anywhere.” As a whole, the lyrics are charming, yet somehow also tormented and existential.
Lost in the Dream’s opening track, “Under the Pressure,” is extremely shoegazey at times, revealing The War On Drugs’ dreamy take on psychedelics. On the flip side, “Suffering” is markedly more lackadaisical, a characteristic made much more noticeable by the song’s placement right after “Red Eyes.”
“Disappearing” is sprawling and lovely, and Lost in the Dream’s title track is especially folk-inspired. The mutedly psychedelic interlude “The Haunting Idle” is simultaneously gorgeous and unsettling before transitioning into the bubbling, ’80s-esque track “Burning,” which is vibrant and bright and includes the inspiring yet thought-provoking lyrics, “If you look, you’ll find yourself / you’re not the demon in the dark.”
One of the best songs on the album is the closer, “In Reverse.” It’s one of those tracks you listen to and can’t help but think “Wow.” It starts like a warm, soft breeze. Serene. Yet as the song goes on, it builds and blooms, capturing the essence of the entire album in one fell swoop. Granduciel sings, “We’re just living in the moment / making our path / losing our grasp through the grand parade.” Eventually “In Reverse” transitions into a carefree blast that causes the listener to sway and smile throughout. It’s honestly one of those songs that give you a moment of clarity, inspiring you to revel in the freedom of humanity. It makes you think. It makes you feel. It allows you to let go.
As a whole, Lost in the Dream is unforgettably magical and truly makes you feel good, yet cerebral musings that challenge the inherent happiness of the band’s textured sound are scattered throughout the album. The songs are spacious, expansive, and, to reiterate, undeniably beautiful. Lost in the Dream is grounded, yet it can put its listeners in a dream-like trance, one they won’t be looking to break any time soon.
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