Why it rocks: The War on Drugs‘s last album, Slave Ambient, thrived off the tension between their desire to make music that rocked and their desire to make music that spaced you out. On “Red Eyes”, it sounds at first like the group has doubled down on the spacing out tack. They seem content to roll with the synths and the noodling guitar and to let the snare drum be the only thing you could describe as “rocking”. But midway through, around the 1:50 mark, Adam Granduciel lets loose one of his primal screams (which really should have a patent by now), and the synths reach out for a higher register, and the guitars take off in earnest. The whole process is befitting of lyrics desperate for freedom from the darkness, whether its yours or your partner’s. Forget “Let It Go”; this is freedom’s new anthem.
Listen if you like…: There’s the obvious Kurt Vile recommendation, since he used to be their frontman and still has a remarkably similar sound. The War on Drugs is also eerily similar to Phosphorescent, who released the excellent Muchacho last year. But the most accessible reference point is probably Tom Petty, if he decided to turn his guitar into a bong.
How’s the album?: Fantastic. Can’t say enough good things about Lost in the Dream. If Slave Ambient was like a breath of fresh air, Lost in the Dream is like the moment before the laughing gas puts you under stretched out into an hour.