The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)
August 31, 2011 by Fran Jolley
Their third release allows the Philadelphian’s to take a gentle shuffle towards the spotlight. Without founding member Kurt Vile who has made his own success as a solo artist War on Drugs seem to be freer to open their sound to more influences from Dylan to Sonic Youth with the usual lethargic ease as heard on previous endeavours.
‘Slave Ambient’ is a journey through classic rock via distortion and psychedelics with glimpses of real talent shining through on ‘Best Friend’ and’ Come to the City’. Adam Granduciel manages to merge the vocal stylings of Tom Petty and 70’s Bob Dylan over new more confident sound textures to allow an almost nostalgic listen.It’s as though Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly had gone back in time and taken the very best of Americana classic rock into a 90s studio with Butch Vig at the controls and let rip.
‘Brothers’ and ‘It’s Your Destiny’ could have been written at any time between 1967 and 1986, but with the swirls of modern electronics. But by the time the album shifts into another gear for the final two tracks War on Drugs take a step into Arcade Fire/U2 territory on ‘Baby Missiles’ and ’Original Slave’ and again perform wonders. Even the instrumentals are atmospheric enough to allow them from being skipped.
A lot of people will be shocked that this is their first listen to War on Drugs. The band seem so confident and comfortable it feels like their 8th comeback album rather than their second ‘proper’ album. Kurt Vile has left the group to have his own solo success, but this hasn’t harmed his former group. In fact it has only lifted them into new found greatness.