The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

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The War on Drugs: Come to the City
The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

From the amusing band name (yep, the bad guys won that particular war, bro) through their swooning post-REM pop-rock, this fine and play-loud album so adeptly juggles Tom Petty/Byrds, slacker alt rock and post-grunge 90s pop (Evan Dando/Buffalo Tom) you can't help but like it.

And Philadelphian songwriter Adam Granduciel's has seriously smart takes on that period when the word-spewing Bob Dylan was Stuck Inside Mobile back in amphetamine-fueled 1966 (the world weary Brothers).

But while this ticks many familiar rock-boxes – and also sears into weird 90s darkness (U2-cum-Eno on Come to the City) – this can equally be heroic and uplifting (the widescreen, throbbing six minutes of Your Love is Calling My Name which picks up Daniel Lanois' production of Dylan).

It effects the effortless marriage of rock guitars and subtle electronics (the swirling pop of Baby Missiles) so while grounded in the past it comes off as contemporary as Radiohead at their most melodic (the droning ambient electronics of The Aviator which segues into Come to the City).

In this post-modern world where flicking the music channels drops you into different decades, The War on Drugs have pulled diverse threads together into a convincingly original statement which may be sometimes familiar, but also delivers the excitement of discovery.

A repeat-play album to sink into.

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