The War On Drugs' third album, released in 2014, is an extraordinary beast. On first listen it seems to drift by, each track running into each other with little variation. Similarly on subsequent listens. However after some time it burrows its way into your brain BECAUSE each track runs into each other with little variation. Ok, enough of the smart-assery. The album opens with the tone setting Under The Pressure, all ringing, liquid guitars and a positively euphoric sounding Adam Granduciel on vocals. A huge anthemic sound. Even more anthemic is the following track Red Eyes, with soaring keyboards washing across the track.
Suffering is slower, sparser, like a slowed down spaced out version of the first two tracks, with the palette of sound very much drawn from Under The Pressure, featuring some gorgeous shimmering keyboards. By the net track An Ocean In Between the pace has picked up to sort of mid-eighties Don Henley standard (think: Boys of Summer). All of this is quite unremarkable except for the actual playing, the musicianship in this album is superb. On the aforementioned track lies a guitar solo that really lifts it to the heights of the rest of the album. Disappearing is the centrepiece. It's nearly seven minutes of absolute lushness, a laid-back atmosphere, beautiful keyboards and gorgeously simple chord changes. At seven minutes it's just not long enough.
Eyes To The Wind and the title track are more rootsy, Granduciel doing his best Bob Dylan impression but the sound is full and uplifting. On the other hand The Haunting Idle is more mood setting atmospherics than any of the previous tracks Burning is like U2's Bad on speed, crossed with some guitar out of The Cure's Disintegration, and the album finishes with the Tunnel of Love era Springsteen of In Reverse.
It's the stadium rock it's ok to like. Built from some arguably pedestrian influences, they are blended to thrilling effect.