War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream

Rock music is crying out for someone to come along and shake things up, to breathe new life into a beast that is close to extinction. It continues to stagger on, like a punch drunk boxer, waiting for something to land the killer blow and put it out of its misery once and for all.

Great rock music is becoming a scarce commodity, and the scarcer it gets the more we seem to look to the past for our rock fix – a quick look at the highest grossing live acts of the last five years reveals a list of bands that have been plying their trade since before today’s generation of music fans were even born. U2, Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones still crop up as the biggest live draws – depressingly familiar names peddling the same old wares.

Reading the reviews that are beginning to filter through for this third album from Pennsylvanian four piece War on Drugs, you might be forgiven for thinking that the wait is over, that the band to revitalise and re-energise rock music has arrived. Critics have been lavish in their praise of Lost in the Dream but three listens in, it is hard to discern why.

Lost in the Dream sounds like Tom Petty playing Springsteen’s Dancing In the Dark over and over and over again with some tasteful Dire Straits guitar noodling thrown in to keep things firmly rooted in the arena rock of the eighties. If that floats your boat, you will find much here to admire, but it’s all very middle of the road and undemanding.

This is a very pedestrian, one paced record with none of the looseness or spark we associate with great rock music, rigidly adhering to a basic 4/4 beat across most of its ten tracks. Opener ‘Under the Pressure’ sets the tone; a nine minute toe tapper, replete with atmospheric arena guitars and synth washes.

On ‘Red Eyes’, singer Adam Granduciel whoops and hollers in an attempt to generate a little excitement, but this is click track rock, sounding very much as if it was honed and perfected in the recording studio with no sense that these songs might veer off course or go anywhere interesting.

‘Eyes to the Wind’ has a certain Traveling Wilburys appeal, providing one of the albums melodic high points, but the odd moment of windswept grandeur cannot save this from being anything more than mildly diverting driving music.

Rock music is in dire trouble if Lost in the Dream is as exciting as it gets in 2014. Disappointingly safe.


2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)