Carrie & Lowell
Third time out, Philadelphia's The War On Drugs have made the year's first faultless album.
And maybe its last. It's wonderful when a band steps up a gear and realises its potential, but rarely is it achieved with such panache. Three years on from the acclaimed Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel and his revolving cast of brothers-in-arms have created something so big, so warm and so stirring that you wonder if it can be matched in the next nine months.
Granduciel has broadened and deepened his band's sound. They've regularly shown a debt to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, but on Lost In The Dream layers are added and ideas fleshed out, summoning up a vast space-rock that ventures out to the stars even as it's rooted in familiar Americana. Most songs pass the six-minute mark as they explore cosmic territory – krautrock on opener Under The Pressure, My Bloody Valentine vibrations on the transitional The Haunting Idle – yet at their heart is, well, heart. It's a peculiar kind of piano-rolled soul music that fuels album centrepiece Eyes To The Wind, finding something grand and mythic in a line like "I'm a bit run down at the moment".
It's not all bliss; there are thrills too in the FM rock triumph of Burning – the son of Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark, the grandson of Rod Stewart's Young Turks – the delirious guitar solos that push the final couple of minutes of An Ocean In Between The Waves into the stratosphere and in Granduciel's perfectly timed "Woo!"s that send Red Eyes supernova. Whether drawing back or hurtling into the light, Lost In The Dream soothes, saddens and excites. Get lost in it too.