Posted on March 14th, 2014 (2:00 pm) by Travis Boyer

Ambition is vital to succeed in any business. Over ambition can be a detriment, especially in the music business. It can be interpreted as compensation for a lack of substance.

To be blunt, The War On Drugs’ latest album, Lost In The Dream, tries too hard. It wants to be epic, but it becomes taxing to take on in one shot. This album spends an incredible amount of time on long, sweeping jams that verge on self-indulgent. Six, seven, even eight minutes of the same minimalist bass and light hearted synthesizers for virtually every track diminishes any epic aspirations that may have existed. What results is a collection of songs that, while they may be enjoyable, can be tiring to consume at their prolonged rates.

However, it’s not all a complete waste of time. The opener, “Under The Pressure,” finds singer Adam Granduciel channeling a wistful vocal persona on a synthy piano-driven track. Granduciel’s dreamy vocal and a recurring static pattern ushers in the album’s dream state. The dream continues on “Red Eyes,” where Granduciel echoes through the dream filter that cascades over this record’s plane of existence. Both are lengthy, both have a distinct droning element to them, but both keep the listener’s attention long enough before any fatigue can set in.

“The Haunting Idle” is as foreboding as its title suggests. At three minutes, this instrumental packs a punch with an echoing, rattling bass that is anything but sedentary. It benefits the following track greatly as it smoothly transitions into “Burning.” A slow burning introduction trades off with a synthesized bass, re-creating a carefree, yet hard charging sound heard in many rock hits of the '80s. Granduciel is the most animated vocally here with a succinct “Woo!” in fist pumping, Springsteen wailing fashion.

“Lost In The Dream” is where Granduciel is at his whiny, wispy, vocal best. Breathy, Granduciel’s vocals flow on easy on this folk rock inspired track. At times, his vocals run out of steam and become indecipherable murmurs in Dylan-esque fashion. Yet, the emotive quality is not lost in translation.

“Disappearing” is where the length issues come into play. Spending an exorbitant amount of looping the same synthesized rhythm in a seven-minute trance, it wears an otherwise respectable song down to a nub. As is the case with many of the songs on this album, attempts at epic-sized anthems fall short. A few of them would have been fine and served their purpose as fillers when letting this album play in the background.

Lost In The Dream is not for those looking for short, punchy pop consumables. This album is for those looking for an economy-sized sampling that will last them for a long run. The War On Drugs tried to stand out with a marathon album, but could have done well with a sprint.

Track List:

  1. Under The Pressure
  2. Red Eyes
  3. Suffering
  4. An Ocean In Between The Waves
  5. Disappearing
  6. Eyes To The Wind
  7. The Haunting Idle
  8. Burning
  9. Lost In The Dream
  10. In Reverse
The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

65 / 100
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