The Best Albums of 2014: #8 The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream


I was in a dark place. Less than a year after moving to New York, I had cut ties with the job I had moved out there for. My life sorta came crashing down. Agoraphobia was setting in for the first few days since…I was holed up in my room, my body was still in shock and I wasn’t sleeping well. I had tickets to see The War on Drugs later that week and for the first time in days, I decided to get out of my room and headed to Bowery Ballroom for the show with my buddy Dave. I realize that this is a personal story that I haven’t really opened up to too many people about, but that night, life was breathed back in to me at that show. The music filled me with purpose and gave me the kick-in-the-pants I needed to start figuring out what comes next. And for that, I love this record.

Lost In The Dream is a call-back to classic American rock and roll. On their 3rd full-length LP, Adam Granduciel’s band channels their inner Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. They’ve followed up on the spectacular Wagonwheel Blues and Slave Ambient with perhaps their best work to-date and easily the most critically acclaimed. Everything about Lost screams America. The album’s opening track “Under The Pressure” is about a struggle…the struggle to be, the struggle to move on and the struggle to cope. The single “Red Eyes”shows-off Granduciel’s polished song structuring with improvised guitars, vocals and a steady drum loop guiding the track.

It’s this newfound fluidity in song-structuring with room for studio spontaneity that affected me the most with this album. Like that fateful night in March at the show. One minute I was in the zone to the verses and then next thing I know, a sick guitar bridge leads into a lengthy chorus punctuation and I was letting energy coarse through my desolate mind-state and body that hadn’t been there for days. But the album doesn’t stop there in addressing and adjusting the soul’s broken condition. On tracks like “Suffering” and “Disappearing” the atmospheric high guitar notes, Granduciel’s re-verb vocals and the ominous drum sequence, harness the emotional center of gravity and make it feel like one is indeed, in The Dream.

I like the lengthy guitar outros on tracks like “An Ocean Between the Waves”…It reminds me of Springsteen more than anything. You can say what you want about Mark Kozelek’s critiques of The War on Drugs having “beer commercial guitar riffs,” (I laugh), but Kozelek is an old school guy and this is a new school production. One that captured the senses of many broken spirits around the country this year and slid into the souls of those who were already centered. For me, it led me to “ride the key wherever it goes” as Granduciel says on “Red Eyes.” I’m thankful for music like this and this record in particular, is a part of the journey I’m on now.

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