Lost In The Dream

The War On Drugs

Secretly Canadian, 2014


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


If someone took their iPod and put a shuffle playlist together of ‘80s post-punk, singer-songwriter classic rock and moody indie rock, they might end up with something approximating Lost In The Dream.

The War On Drugs’ third album was born amid heartbreak, the loss of a band member and a year long gestation period, but the end result is very much worth it. At 10 tracks and running close to an hour, these are long, studied, trance-heavy songs of the type you listen to alone.

Previous War On Drugs songs have evoked Springsteen and Dylan, and those influences are still here in the singing, but the music draws more from mid-period U2 and the Cure’s my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Disintegration. The hypnotic, two chord opener  “Under The Pressure” also adds shades of Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer” and the Cure’s “She Sells Sanctuary” to the Cure/U2 soup, but not once is the feeling retro the way it could be. The song makes the most of those two chords by adding keyboard and guitar fills and a couple of long instrumental sections, the latter of which is an unnecessary two minute noise fadeout that can be skipped. But what comes before is utterly fantastic, certainly one of the best rock songs of 2014 so far.

The rest of the album is more or less a restatement of those themes, using quick staccato drums and only a couple of repeated chords as the foundation but layering the sound and warmth to create an all-encompassing, warm yet vaguely foreboding mood. Listened to as a whole, the music takes on an ebb and flow, the quieter or instrumental-only sections acting as a counterpoint to the stronger force of the Dylan-inspired verses, as on “Eyes To The Wind,” and the Pink Floyd-esque guitar solos of “The Haunting Idle” and the middle of “Suffering”

If there’s a flaw here, it’s that the similar approach to most of the songwriting renders them somewhat ineffectual after a while, to the point where the listener enjoys the groove and becomes enveloped in the sound but can’t quite remember after the fact how the songs really differed. One reviewer compared this to Disintegration, which is quite apt, but that album broke up its long stretches of mood music with punchy songs like “Lovesong” and “Lullaby,” and there’s really none of that here, although the title track tries.

Of course, given this album’s title, perhaps that is part of the plan. Few albums in recent memory carry this sort of dreamy, all-encompassing aura, the type that surrounds the listener from the start and refuses to let go. It falls short of being a masterpiece because of the soundalike nature and the padding – 10 songs in an hour means there is bound to be unnecessary noise, no matter how much it relates to the theme – but it is the War On Drugs’ best album yet and a record worth the investment.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Secretly Canadian, and is used for informational purposes only.