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Thursday, 20 March 2014

THE WAR ON THE DRUGS - LOST IN THE DREAM

The War on Drugs is a smartly-named band that is basically one man's vision now - but the new album, Lost In The Dream has the sound of an entire canon, an entire back catalogue, echoing through it.  There is a lot of talk these days of mash-ups, fusions, hybrids, influences, and eclectic splicing, but few decisive aesthetic acts of total comprehension and compression that occur when a tradition meets an individual talent.  This album, just out in the UK in 2014, is such a moment. The list of fully absorbed influences is long, and almost comical - but let's start with the big two - Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen - mostly in terms of vocals for the former, and the chugging guitars, and epic sax bits of the latter; then move on to the Eagles, Chris Rea, Joshua Tree era U2, Tom Petty, Dire Straits - in short, a whole range of Americana-influenced rockers whose greatest songs are best played in cars with the top rolled down driving to Malibu at sundown, or to the Mojave.

So far, so what, you might ask - but then comes the twist that makes everything shine and flash - for this is fused with an ambient sensibility, a gift for abstract airy soundscapes, and dream-pop, part Tangerine Dream, part Talk Talk, part William Orbit.  What results is a guitar and synth masterwork that has the driving pulse of a revival meeting that has just been joined by Jesus bearing peyote. Yelps of extraordinary joy and rhapsodic sequences spiral out and spin in to the rambling, open form songs, that expand and swim about the rock formula in a dream swoon like kissing a wannabe starlet you love in a diner on the edge of town.  2014 has given us albums of majestic pop beauty by Beck and Warpaint, but this surpasses them for intelligent design.
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