In the wake of the truly unexpected (and rather devastating) Phillies playoff upset this past weekend, I decided to find solace in the triumphant sound of Philly’s The War on Drugs.
Like Kurt Vile, who not surprisingly was a former member of The War on Drugs, these dudes are trafficking in a sound that is a truly inspired update to the working class pop-rock Americana of artists like Bruce Springsteen & Tom Petty. Like those dudes, The War on Drugs (especially on “Baby Missiles“) effectively mine rural desperation, the desire to hit the road, driving imagery and a propulsive rock sound to create something that is as nostalgic as it is perfectly now.
A tiny window into the marked differences between then and now, the 70’s version of this sound sought a shiny studio veneer like a freshly Turtle Waxed Camaro in the driveway as a signifier of having arrived…of acceptance and authenticity. With the dawn of the digital everything, upcoming artists are having to actively seek out means of making their music sound good and familiar, while investigating and experimenting with different mediums to give their sound a lo-fi quality. An authentic sound.
Luckily, The War on Drugs have found it. Imagine if you will, a lava lamp, but instead of water, the molten red wax floats suspended in clouds of white and grey smoke. This is their sound. Traditionally structured rock anthems float in a thick swirling washes of echo, reverb, and endless waves of ambient atmospherics.
It sounds rather heady I’m sure, but trust me, it’s romantic, epic stuff, this War on Drugs. This War you can’t lose.