The cover for The War on Drugs’ latest album, Lost in the Dream, finds frontman Adam Granduciel looking down pensively, his fuzzy, mop-headed silhouette semi-obscured by light flowing through a window. The gauzy image is the perfect encapsulation of the Philadelphia band’s brand of melancholic Psych Pop, a sound at once familiar and tough to entirely pin down.
Lost in the Dream’s 10 songs dig relentlessly into one’s consciousness, refusing to go away without a fight. Album opener “Under the Pressure” is the first sign of its addictive powers, nearly nine minutes of atmospheric synths, propulsive rhythms and Granduciel’s zigzagging guitar lines and Dylan-on-uppers vocals. “Red Eyes” sounds like MTV-era Dire Straits but better. “An Ocean in Between the Waves” is better still, a seriously hypnotic love-gone-bad lament that finds Granduciel waxing poetic about the moonlight, black suns and wild winds, his guitar searching for answers that never seem to come.
An avowed Dylan-head, Granduciel also seems to have soft spot for dreamy, ’80s-lacquered Pop. “Burning” recalls an unlikely meld of The Cure and Tom Petty doing a cover of Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks.” And “Eyes to the Wind” sounds like The Traveling Wilburys by way of The Church.
It’s often noted that The War on Drugs’ original lineup featured Kurt Vile, who left after the band’s 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues. But make no mistake — this is Granduciel’s baby, one that might look familiar but clearly has its own distinct DNA.
THE WAR ON DRUGS plays 20th Century Theater Friday, April 11. Tickets/more info here.