The War on Drugs released its new album Lost in the Dream today. The band also plays the Bluebird on March 26. Here's what's going to happen now: I'm going to listen to the new War on Drugs album with my cat, Kitten and we're going to review it track-by-track. Her credentials are that I once wrote a dance jam about her. Also she has the attention span of, you know, a cat, so this could take a while.
"Under The Pressure"
Mark Sanders: Well this one starts out weird. Is that a drum machine someone forgot to turn off? It must be setting us up for something seriously grandiose.... Oh, here it is: a few seconds in. War on Drugs front man Adam Granduciel is a humble singer. He knows his voice isn't the most polished, so he relies on short phrasings to convey... something. Man, I don't know. It's rock music.
Kitten: [Hides in a box. She loves boxes -- maybe it's something about being in confined spaces that makes her feel comforted. She looks mildly amused. Unclear whether it's the song or the box. Inconclusive verdict thus far.]
MS: This is the single, isn't it? It sounds single-ish. We got some of Granduciel singing in the background, like he's at the opposite end of a basketball court begging for the ball. The mid-tempo janglefest he's doing is right on. Reminds me of a less corny Jackson Browne, and...
Hold on. Jesus. Stop that. Do you need food?
Kitten: [Looks back in disgust. She's clearly hungry. I feed her. She has no comment on any of these developments.]
MS: This would have been the soundtrack to my sixteen-year-old mind when I got turned down for the prom. Oh, wait -- here at the end there's a saxophone! I love this song even more now. Next time someone unfriends me on Facebook, this is headed to the top of my playlist.
Kitten: [This one she's getting into. No head-bobbing or moshing, though that's not her style. Basically if she's not sleeping or scratching on walls, then she approves of whatever's going on. In this case, it's me playing this song loudly. We're calling that approval.]
"An Ocean In Between The Waves"
MS: Who influenced who: Kurt Vile or Granduciel? Whichever is the case, this could've easily been a track on Vile's Constant Hitmaker. I don't know. Not feeling this one. Maybe we need to be in a fast-moving car for it to make sense. Or high or something.
MS: The payoff is here, tucked in a corner halfway through the album. It makes me want to go find my old copy of the Cure's Disintegration. You know Granduciel's going for something when he sings "Will you wait for the one that disappears?" right before he attempts to crush the universe with a harmonica riff. Good God.
Kitten: [Falls asleep.]
"Eyes To The Wind"
MS: For a guy who tends to play the same three chords in all his songs, Granduciel can really inhabit an array of personalities. The last track he was Robert Smith; here he's gone Tom Petty. This is the real gem of this album. Excuse me. I'm having a moment.
Kitten: [Sits on the sofa, staring blankly at a deer skull. The placid look on her face is a sign of approval. She perks up when she hears the saxophone.]
"The Haunting Idle"
MS: This must have been an outtake from some sci-fi movie Granduciel wrote the soundtrack for but never released. That's the only explanation. Over three minutes of soft noise.
Kitten: [Slow blink. It's 9 a.m., which means she's about to sleep for 10 hours straight.]
MS: We just got taken from some wanky noisehole to a late-album pick-me-up. It's a decent song with perhaps the strongest chorus on the whole album, but haven't we heard this already?
Kitten: [She's crying. She just woke up and wants entertainment and iTunes isn't cutting it. I toss her a ball and she forgets about the song. This means she's bored, so we're in agreement.]
"Lost In The Dream"
MS: Nice start, if only because it resembles "Eyes to the Wind." Not as good, though. But whatever -- that one was hard to top. Good chorus, if not exactly of the "Call Me Maybe" variety. Where's the urgency that we heard earlier in the album, though? Come on, give me feelings again.
Kitten: [More sleeping.]
MS: Here we go. Last track. Decent start, with the layered guitars and weird effects. Do I hear ocean waves? That's a cheesy move if that's what it is.
Kitten: [She seems to like this one. She's awake, anyway. I don't know. I'm not a goddamned cat whisperer.]
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