The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream

6 04 2014

War on drugsIn 1986, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty formed a new supergroup with members of Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and The Waterboys. Bruce Springsteen (and various members of the E Street band) took time out from their Tunnel of Love tour to guest on the album.  The album was called Lost in the Dream and went on to be one of the critics favourites, and regularly turns up in “best of the 80s” lists.

Of course, this didn’t really happen. Lost in the Dream is the latest album from The War on Drugs, but it really does sound like the album was born in that wonderful, experimental era of the early to mid 1980s.

I’ve not heard any of the bands earlier music, but I was intrigued enough by the lead single Red Eyes to seek the album out on Spotify, and then fell in love and bought the CD. A lot of artists are not happy with the streaming income in the new era, but for me, I buy more new music (from new to me artists) now I can investigate before pulling out my credit card. It’s not like there are many physical music stores to seek out new music, so streaming services are a good way to dip into albums before buying. Anyway, apologies, I’m going a bit off piste here.

The album opens with the nearly 9 minutes long Under the Pressure. The album opener sets the scene for the whole album – with a real Whole of the Moon vibe, and a great middle section, as the track breaks down and synths and layered guitars battle towards the songs conclusion.

Suffering would not have sounded out-of-place on Ryan Adams excellent Love is Hell album. Some lovely bar-room piano underpins the guitar towards the end of this song. Lost in the Dream sounds amazing – real attention has been paid to the production – with plenty of space for instruments to jump to the fore and grab your attention.

An Ocean In Between The Waves is driven by a nagging bass and drum pattern that picks up and becomes one of those great driving down the highway songs. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

“I’m at the darkened hillside
And there’s a haze right between the trees
And I can barely see you
You’re like an ocean in between the waves”

Disappearing reminds me a little of Fleetwood Mac – it’s got the feel of one of those hypnotising, mid-paced songs that the Mac do so well. Harmonica is added to the pallet, and some of the best guitar sounds of the album are on display on this beautiful, mesmeric track.

Eyes To The Wind has shades of Dylan in the vocals and a lovely, subtle country feel towards the end of the song.

Lost In The Dream is pure Americana – snatches of harmonica and echo-laden guitar.

The album finishes with the epic In Reverse. The crash of waves and the lonely sounds of a distant coastline usher in a slow-burning track of love and loss. The guitar soundscapes drift in and out, like consciousness, as the mix fades to reveal the waves lapping against the shore.

“I’ll be here or I’ll fade away
Never cared about moving, Never cared about now”

A great end to a wonderful album. I guess it’s time I investigated the earlier albums by The War on Drugs now.

Buy Lost in the Dream at Amazon UK

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