The War On Drugs are a band that have always sounded big. Even when it was just frontman/songwriter Adam Granduciel alone in a dilapidated Philly house writing anthemic rock and roll and experimental sound collages, albums like Slave Ambient and Lost in the Dream felt and sounded like products of big studios and veteran musicians. Granduciel was an introverted artist who seemed to feel the world around him in a very real, sensitive way. His music was grounded in feelings of loneliness, isolation, and feelings of not quite fitting in, which for a similar soul like myself was easy to lock into.
Of course, Lost in the Dream turned Granduciel and The War On Drugs into road warriors and household names. The band turned into a real band, six members strong and became one of the best live bands the US had to offer. It was sort of a similar transition that Wilco had in 2004(Granduciel even comes across very Jeff Tweedy-like; humble, thoughtful, and feeling the world around him in a very heavy way.) The band jumped from indie label Secretly Canadian to Atlantic in 2017 and released the equally acclaimed A Deeper Understanding. That album continued to allow The War On Drugs to rise as both a stadium act and one that wrote thoughtful, well-crafted records that were worlds within themselves.
On October 29th The War On Drugs will release their fifth studio album I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. From the sound of lead single “Living Proof” Granduciel and company continue to hone their sound while staying true to Granduciel’s emotionally heavy and exploratory beginnings with the band.
From the delicate piano, finger-picked acoustic, and slide guitar “Living Proof” feels full of life. Peppered with Hammond B-3 and Granduciel’s earnest vocals the song slowly unfurls into a masterful display of songwriting. There’s an wide-open sky kind of mood here, and of course Adam Granduciel adds some truly tasteful lead guitar that tows the line between classic rock and the avante garde(once again reminding me of Tweedy and his underrated guitar playing on A Ghost Is Born.)
I guess what I’m getting at here is that The War On Drugs are on a very Wilco-ish path. A band that has evolved exponentially since their humble beginnings; from dusty Americana to steely sound collages to stadium anthems that mix it all together to make something quite unique.
Listen to “Living Proof” below.