The War on Drugs | Slave Ambient

Secretly Canadian (2011)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  August 9, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars


Sometimes the addition or removal of certain ingredients can make all the difference to a band. The War on Drugs were formerly the side project of Philadelphia lo-fi psych rocker Kurt Vile. Now that Vile is off on his own with Kurt Vile & the Violators, the War on Drugs is now more fully the musical child of songwriter Adam Granduciel. On Slave Ambient, Granduciel's love of tranced-out, yet strangely filtered arena rock jams is on full display. The record actually gains its strengths and weaknesses from the same qualities. Highly repetitive structures hint at ambient music, while brightly twinkling pads of guitars, heavily sustained keys, artificial-sounding drums, and boyish vocals are all coaxed forward with a generous slathering of digital reverb. In its best moments, clean and classic rock melodies get taken for a fast ride with the windows down (as on the Dylan-via-Destroyer vibe of "Brothers.") At their worst, though, the tendency of Granduciel and company to get swept up in the easy grandeur of faux-polished art jams makes Slave Ambient sound like little more than the poor man's Unforgettable Fire. Comfortably normal, the War on Drugs make for a nice tonic to the sometimes overly weird attitudes of modern indie-psych bands.

THE WAR ON DRUGS + CAVEMAN + PORCELAIN RAFT | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | August 21 @ 8 pm | $10 | 18+ | 617.779.0140

Related: As he is, Photos: Kurt Vile at the Brighton Music Hall, The Horrors | Skying, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, Kurt Vile,  More more >
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