I Don’t Live Here Anymore

The War On Drugs

Atlantic, 2021


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


As good as A Deeper Understanding was, it had an insular feel to it that was hard to penetrate, a feel that this was a good album that deserved its Grammy but not an approachable one. I Don’t Live Here Anymore is the opposite…and is the best album the band has made.

Warm, engaging, and human, the band’s fifth album features the same sonic hallmarks as before but immediately brings the listener into the fold. It’s music that is great for cruising, or reflecting, or wistful nights, or hopeful mornings. They’re songs that you feel like could be yours, but play well as echo-laden anthems that will fill arenas. It’s hard not to smile when this record plays.

As ever, part of that appeal is the familiarity of the sounds. More than ever, the 1980s rock influences are integrated into the sound. Heavy influences of Tom Petty (“Wasted”), Springsteen (all the songs), Fleetwood Mac (“Harmonia’s Dream”), Phil Collins/Mike and the Mechanics/Genesis (“I Don’t Wanna Wait”) and Dire Straits (“Rings Around My Father’s Eyes”) permeate the list, giving the record a heartland rock feel that – to Adam Granduciel’s credit – never sounds forced or pandering.

The songs still tend to stick to a groove, but this time they are more succinct, dispensing with overly long solos, interludes, intros/outros and the like. Lyrically, the themes of change, aging and linking to the past echo through the album, from “Rings Around My Father’s Eyes” to “Old Skin” to the lost love of the title track to “Change.” For people of a certain age, who remember the influences and can relate to the lyrics within, this album will hit home.

“Harmonia’s Dream” is the most upbeat track here, a pop song that adds synth and a drum machine to its Fleetwood/Springsteen hybrid, while “I Don’t Wanna Wait” nails that semi-creepy pop vibe that Genesis and its solo acts perfected in the ‘80s; when the gated drums come in at the halfway mark, it sounds seriously like Peter Gabriel covering a Mike + The Mechanics song with Collins on drums. Uncanny, and cool.

The lack of variety within each song is still a sore spot for this band, so tracks like “Old Skin” and “Change” tend to drag a bit, but the sentiment of “Rings Around My Father’s Eyes,” the dark, driving “Victim” and the grandeur of the title track make up for it. And “Occasional Rain” saves some optimism for the end, a necessary offset to some of the drearier themes on the disc.

It’s safe to say the War On Drugs has grown into the band they promised to be on their 2008 debut, and that they will not lose sight of who they are or repeat the same thing ad infinitum. I Don’t Live Here Anymore is highly recommended.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2022 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 Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.