While the real war on drugs is raging outside, Pennsylvania-based experimental indie group The War on Drugs is grappling with an internal subconscious on their third release, Lost In The Dream.
A product of Secretly Canadian records, the album brings to light the hope that artistic genius never dies but that it is simply transferred and transmitted throughout the course of a band or an artist’s career. A work of complete fluidity that straddles the space between ambience and intense stimulation, The War on Drugs has truly come in to their element on this record.
Opening the album with “Under the Pressure,” the rest of the tracks are expected to follow with a rhythm and static that swells and diffuses, then breaks into a steady and graspable melody. Punctuating the tendency of all things to collapse under the weight of expectation and obligation, lead singer Adam Granducial preaches that we all “stare straight into nothing but we call it all the same.” Guitars dance around ’80s synth interludes, eventually merging into a symphonic freeway. “Red Eyes” maintains a steady, emotive momentum with acoustic flavor, before exploding with a shout into heavy guitar, sharp snare hits, and interlaced backing vocals.
“Ocean Between the Waves” and “Haunting Idle” build from dissonant guitar and dissolving vibrato into two spellbinding ballads that evoke deeper sentiment where we “just want to lay in the moonlight and see the light shining / see you in the outline.” “Disappearing” falls into a similar vein with fading percussion and hazy instrumentals that create a lull of paralysis that parallels the album title. The title track is rich with vibrato and places us on the edge of reality where we become “lost in the dream or just the silence of the moment.”
“Burning,” “Suffering,” and “Eyes to the Wind” provide outlets for a more acoustic-driven sound and pose questions like “why don’t we rearrange the way I listen to the dark / dreaming / starting up again.” These themes highlight lingering messages of hope and discovery that are most prevalent outside the bounds of reality. They run deep in the final track “In Reverse,” on which the band captures the motion of wind and paints allusions to earlier tracks in lines “I don’t mind you disappearing / because I know you can be found.”
The War on Drugs has decisively found what they were looking for in Lost In The Dream and continues to find a balance between experimentalism and conventionalism. Falling in and out of sleep all the while crossing new emotional thresholds in each track, the album defines the boundaries between what we see in our dreams and what we perceive in our daily lives, and how these two realms often flow as one.