“Got the feeling that I can’t move without sliding. I’m a thousand miles behind, with a hundred more to climb so it’s you I hope survives without fighting” are the heavy words setting the tone for The War on Drugs recently released Slave Ambient. Juxtaposed with layered melodic guitars and Adam Granduciel’s calm, reassuring voice, the opening song Best Night actually leaves you feeling uplifted.
It could be their uncanny ability of combining melancholy lyrics with Dylan-like ballads that established their albums as being some of the best road trip music out there. A large part could also be attributed to their method of song building, which involves layering tapes upon tapes of recordings that results in the hazy, ambient background sounds best taken in on high volume while driving down a country road. Either way, the War on Drugs could be the perfect companion on your next journey.
While nobody, including the members themselves, can deny the influences of Bob Dylan or Tom Petty, an even stronger shaping factor may be their home of Philadelphia, which is at the heart of both their Americana themed music and lyrics. With contributions over the years from a range of Philly-based members, including now solo artist Kurt Vile, their depiction and relationship with their hometown comes across as completely authentic. Granduciel’s delivery often gives the impression that the lyrics have just occurred to him, which is actually the case in the mainly improvised Brothers, one of two songs that resurfaced from the Future Weather EP. Although you likely won’t be able to sing along with the War on Drugs, their music finds its way into your subconscious and manages to become familiar almost overnight, largely thanks to nostalgia-evoking harmonicas and the seemingly effortless poetry of their lyrics. It’s the subtle psychedelic infusions that give them a distinct sound and keep you from getting too comfortable labeling them as folk, or any genre for that matter.
Having seen the War on Drugs play in Montreal just three months ago, there’s no doubt that they’ll be met with even more enthusiasm then when they opened for Destroyer. Their first full-length album in four years has barely been out a week and it’s quickly becoming a favourite among followers and critics. Join Forget the Box for The War on Drugs with Caveman and Porcelain Raft at 8:30 p.m. on August 23rd at Casa Del Popolo. Tickets are $10.00 in advance through Blue Skies Turn Black and $12.00 at the door.
See you there!