The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

Rating: ★★★★ ·

While some may say to ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ I will forever judge an album by its artwork, or at least base my idea of what the band behind the cover art would possibly sound like. Sometimes, this theory proves faulty and none of the visual clues match up with the sound. Others, however, like with this release, fit perfectly; the ethereal pinks and purples mixed with the overall fuzziness match the lush waves of guitars and hazy pop/rock sounds of The War On Drugs.

The first track, “Best Night,” is one that should blow you away, as it did to me. Upon listening the first time, I was pleased with it, but after repeated listens, it began to grow to something much more. Soft, muted drums echo demurely in the background, easing into the meandering guitar parts until the scraggly vocals of Adam Granduciel chime in and you’re instantly hooked. Steady guitars feel confident and omnipresent, creating a flowing wall of background sound that is always buzzing in your ears. It’s a killer track to begin with, but then The War on Drugs throws in some extra minute details that just sets this above most common tracks; there’s something about the way the guitar part matches the little stretch out of a word that has me swooning over this track. To top it all off, the song transitions to the next with a sensational instrumental groove that is sure to have you grooving along with each riff.

Even though the first track is a big deal in itself, the rest of the album is nothing to turn your nose up at.  There isn’t a song that you’ll want to skip, and there are certainly more to treasure than just “Best Night.” “Come to the City” is a four minute and thirty second drum-driven party number, complete with buzzy guitar break. “Blackwater,“ the ending track, loses the drums for the most part, and takes a leaf out of the acoustic book, allowing you to appreciate the strength in such a powerful voice. Unifying all these great numbers is some stellar songwriting and the thematic waves of serenity.

When comparing this band to others, names like Bob Dylan and Springsteen tend to crop up, leaving big shoes to fill. However, it seems like this band has taken comparisons like these in their stride and not looking back. While this may not be a revolutionary album, filled with a dramatic and entirely unique sound, Slave Ambient is still a constant and confident effort from The War On Drugs.

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