The band and its fans are undoubtedly sick of the comparison, but there’s no denying it: The War On Drugs sounds like Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straits. Instead of imitating those and other FM mainstays, however, The War On Drugs aims for listeners’ feelings about them, and for our collective radio unconscious. On Lost In The Dream, they nail us good.
The record expands on the punchy, reverb-washed sound of its predecessor, 2011’s Slave Ambient. Eight-minute opener “Under The Pressure” breezes by, propelled by hazy keyboards and a baritone sax. “Well the comedown here was easy, like the arrival of a new day” sings frontman Adam Granduciel. “But a dream like this gets wasted without you.” In togetherness, The War On Drugs consistently finds loneliness.
That sadness could make Lost In The Dream sound like a big fat bummer, but thrilling moments abound: the midtempo beauty “Eyes To The Wind,” the dark guitar workout “An Ocean In Between The Waves,” the fever-dream closer “In Reverse,” the gorgeous and propulsive “Red Eyes.” Dream’s best song, “Burning,” finds Granduciel confidently driving across an emotional rift, while “Dancing In The Dark” synths hum underneath. Dreamy instrumental “The Haunting Idle” is the only weak track; since the record is already abstract, the song redundantly interrupts its momentum.
As with other War On Drugs records, every hook on Lost In The Dream attempts to organize emotional chaos into understanding. Or as Granduciel puts it on “Burning,” we’re all “wide awake to redefine the way you listen in the dark.” On Lost In The Dream, The War On Drugs provides the darkness, and fans are just lucky enough to listen.