ALBUM: Lost In a Dream
ARTIST: The War on Drugs
The third release from the increasingly confident Adam Granduciel and The War on Drugs, Lost In the Dream, plays like a poignant moment in time encapsulated in a hazy fog. A time of pure, almost ethereal, sadness, and vivid self-discovery, captured and magnified until the cracks start to show, and then honed in on even more until those very flaws become centerpieces for casual banter - no longer hidden and everything laid bare. The sounds that accompany Granduciel’s inner-vagabond flutter and sway as his soul drifts through the different planes of existence; as he gasps for air “under the pressure,” suffers all the “suffering,” and finally gets “lost in the dream.”
The instrumentation, as essential to this record’s cohesiveness as Granduciel’s own performance, morphs throughout the album from delicate and airy soundscapes to oddly anthemic rock tunes that revel in their own straightforwardness. Granduciel’s understated presence on a majority of the tracks adds to that sense of kitschy swagger, with lyrics swaying in and out of the negative space even when met with the shoegaze influenced energy of “Eyes to the Wind” or “Burning.” He maintains a disconnect that allows him to wander in and out of tracks in a breezy, effortless, manner. He croons about being “raised on a promise” on “Under the Pressure,” but the claustrophobic lyrics ultimately become more freeing than one could ever imagine when matched with the bands engaging rhythm and Granduciel’s own, inviting, vocals. This distinct aesthetic, where the most morose lines are chirped by a distant Granduciel and the most confident are whispered in a whimper, carries the album from it’s fantastic opener to it’s equally brilliant counterpart, the closer, “In Reverse.” Granduciel struggles with discovering the purpose of isolation, the necessity of “The Haunting Idle,” and by the time the album reaches its conclusion, The War On Drugs is more certain in its direction than ever before.
Even though many of Granduciel’s themes tackle the crushing insecurity that follows abandonment, Lost In the Dream is never overcome by its own vision. “Red Eyes” is deliberate in its optimism, even as the vocals warble in an incomprehensible echo, and when the vocals are finally at the forefront on the titular track, Granduciel shoulders the weight of the entire record without a single stumble. There was a time when Granduciel would’ve been okay with “Disappearing,” wondering if she would “wait for the one that disappears,” but there’s a keen sense of maturity and understanding by the time the record reaches its final act. When he realizes that “love is the key to the games we play, but don’t mind losing,” it’s with cautious, but equally confident, assurance. With this album, Granduciel forfeits any and all reservations, laying all his cards bare in a fantastically liberating manner. He manages to recount and revisit his lowest lows with the meditative urgency of a monk - almost as if he’s making silent vow to never fall victim to the same missteps again. Chronicling your own flaws and fears has never been so freeing.
"Why be here when we're both gonna fake it?"