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The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient 2LP
Includes mp3 download of album.
Secretly Canadian Records
On their third album, the War on Drugs essentially continue to stake out their own particular patch of ground in 21st century rock & roll with an indie bent, nodding in equal parts toward older traditions and newer ones with a difference of two decades in between them, captured right down to the cover art, which is pretty much a companion piece to the art on their second album Future Weather. On the one hand, there's still a sense of world-weary wisdom and lost Americana as such at work from the start, as the extended breakdown toward the end of "Best Night" demonstrates, all silvery guitar jamming and sparkling piano following from Adam Granduciel's reedy singing. At the same time the diffuse qualities of feedback, psychedelic glaze, and textural experimentation via everything that fed into what became shoegaze (not to mention shoegaze itself) remain key, audible in the opening chimes of "Brothers" and "It's Your Destiny"'s spaced-out and exultant flow, perhaps most notably on the short instrumentals "Original Slave" and "Come for It." If the basic balance remains unchanged, the result has been a sound just enough of the War on Drugs' own as a result, which gets stronger and even more droned out and powerful as the album continues. More than once they find just the right way to make it all click into something even more distinct, like the higher-pitched croon on "I Was There" slipping out over a gentle chug underpinned by darker feedback shadings or the Motorik-as-classic-rock-anthem "Come to the City," which practically begs a massive arena/light show performance (little surprise the later instrumental "City Reprise #12" takes that feeling and runs with it even more triumphantly). "Your Love Is Calling My Name" is the album's clearest barnburner, with a brisk, sharp pace and Granduciel riding-the-freeway-referencing lyrics with an appropriate easygoing elan, all while feeling warm and enveloping around the edges (and especially on the great instrumental break leading back into a wonderful, focused guitar part).