Best Albums of 2014: The War On Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”

Adam Granduciel wanders through the familiar and unknown.

thewarondrugs-lostinthedreamOn The War on Drugs’ third longplayer, frontman Adam Granduciel is a travelin’ man. Whether escaping some domestic restraint for the open road or trying to break through the confines of nostalgia, he’s in a wandering state. There’s dark nights, cold winds, backroads, high moons, old memories; familiar faces in his mind quickly give way to unknown places under his feet. Expressive in his vulnerabilities and sentimentalities, on Lost in the Dream Granduciel struggles to sort out new surroundings and personas while still inexorably rooted in his past. “Been trying to redefine everything I know and love,” he concedes on “An Ocean In Between the Waves.”

It’s been more than half a decade since Kurt Vile left the band he co-founded with Granduciel to embark on a solo career, but the significant imprint each talented musician has left upon the other—Granduciel was a founding member of Vile’s backing band The Violators until 2011—are audible, lasting echoes. Possessing an impressive backcatalog, The War on Drugs’ music has reached a pinnacle of sorts on this record, having never been so uniformly in sync with its abstract narrative as here: free-wheelin’ melodies run like sonic airstreams through fingers out the passenger-side window, grasping at something both tangible and ethereal; songs wind and churn like the ever-changing emotions and moods inside Granduciel’s head, exploring and building and reacting. Here, The War on Drugs have crafted an album about reflection and wanderlust that is as consuming as it is compelling—and we’re swept up and away along with them.—Breanna Murphy


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