For years, the War on Drugs has specialized in creating albums that feel like the half-forgotten moments of a daydream. From the blurry, weathered imagery on the cover of “Slave Ambient” to the swollen passages of hazy ambient rock of “A Deeper Understanding” to even the name of a record “Lost in the Dream”, the recordings of Adam Granduciel and of the company struggle with the unreliable nature of memory and the feelings associated with it.
In their latest project, “I don’t live here anymore,” these themes return once again, with Granduciel exploring the meaning of his memories and how music can effortlessly transport him to the distant past.
“I think it’s something about making music and getting lost in your craft – I’m naturally put in the memory,” said Granduciel, whose band will play Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 25. comes from this lifelong love and obsession I’ve had for music. It brings me back to that kind of creativity that comes from the past, from my childhood.
Whether he’s wondering “maybe I’ve been gone too long/can’t go back” on “Living Proof” or making the devastating revelation that he “can’t escape this memory” on “Harmonia’s Dream,” Granduciel returns time and time again to the intoxicating – and equally dangerous – allure of the past on “I don’t live here anymore.” Nostalgia can fill you with an unparalleled sense of euphoria, but stay there too long and you lose your grip on the present. When Granduciel looks back, it is neither with tenderness nor horror, but with the ambiguity that makes up true human existence.
While Granduciel may be mostly preoccupied with reviewing the hazy moments in his personal history, he can be excused for taking a moment to celebrate the victories in his current life.
“I Don’t Live Here Anymore” continues an unprecedented streak of success for War on Drugs, a band that started in Philadelphia with a vaguely Springsteen vibe and has since evolved into a West Coast band with a deeply musical ambitious and vast. prospects. Perhaps no guitar-based indie rock band has managed to navigate the past decade as deftly as War on Drugs, which have managed to remain deeply relevant as the zeitgeist cultural leaned toward omnivorous pop, hip-hop, and R&B icons like Frank Ocean, Grimes, and Kendrick Lamar. .
Of course, labeling War on Drugs strictly as a guitar-based band misses the point, as the band have increasingly explored the dark realms of electronic-based sounds for years, no more than “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”. .”
Strangely labeled as “Americana” or “Heartland Rock,” the War on Drugs have never been afraid to venture into the synth-laden lands explored by ’80s rock bands. But the band have always been pretty bizarre to push back any comparison with yacht-rockers like Genesis or Bruce Hornsby.
On “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” the band takes that weirdness (the weird synth flourishes, the white noise, the negative space) into exciting new avenues. On “Victim”, Granduciel crafts an icy synth ballad full of jagged keyboard riffs and ambient dissonance. “I Don’t Want to Wait” begins as a tense, nocturnal anthem of eerie mechanical beeps and hisses before giving way to a triumphant, galloping second half boosted by raining keys and distorted guitars.
Sound lines are blurred throughout the album, with guitar riffs bleeding through a sea of digital noise, creating a dizzying atmosphere that Granduciel describes as “a big sound”.
“We’re trying to play in the studio where you’re almost bending reality into something more like an illusion – this bed of noise, where you don’t know where the sounds are coming from,” Granduciel said.
Ultimately, creating illusions is what War on Drugs does best. Memories, dreams, faded memories – these are all malleable and flexible concepts. It is impossible to grasp and record the past accurately, but that is beside the point. Just trying to remember it makes for a fascinating journey, and the War on Drugs is still in search.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO:
The war on drugs
Or: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., SF
When: 8 p.m., Friday, February 25