The War on Drugs: LIVE DRUGS (Super High Quality) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, January 28th, 2021  

The War on Drugs


Super High Quality

Nov 25, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There is something uniquely wondrous about experiencing The War on Drugs live. The Philly band released their debut album, Wagonwheel Blues, back in 2008 and it only proved that they were onto something big; the six-piece band bravely expanded the definition of what it means to fully embody the genre of rock. Wagonwheel Blues was a muddling of folk, of country, of bluegrass.

Frontman Adam Granduciel can captivate anyone with his wistful vocals and deft songwriting as demonstrated on the band’s follow-up records: 2011’s Slave Ambient, 2014’s Lost in the Dream, and 2017’s Grammy-award winning A Deeper Understanding. The release of their first live album, aptly entitled LIVE DRUGS, couldn’t have come at a better time. 

During the midst of a devastating global pandemic that caused concerts to be canceled indefinitely, it serves as a sonic panacea for those eager to hear the band in a different way on wax. Just like The War on Drugs catalogue, from start to finish LIVE DRUGS is obscenely gorgeous while remaining true to their unfettered artistry. 

“An Ocean Between the Waves,” one of Lost in the Dream’s most notable songs, is a felicitous introduction for the 10-track project. “Pain” feels more emotional live when compared to the recorded version; “Red Eyes” gloriously maintains all of its buoyant gusto. The serenity and palpable loneliness of “Thinking of a Place” hits heavy as it comes to life at nearly the halfway mark of LIVE DRUGS. 

“Buenos Aires Beach” is a pleasant surprise and the only song from their debut record to be featured on the album and the slow-burn of Warren Zevon cover “Accidentally Like a Martyr” emphasizes its simplicity as well as its sagacity. The 12-minute drama of “Under the Pressure” displays The War on Drugs’ seamless devotion to climatic buildups and labyrinthine instrumentation. The last song on LIVE DRUGS, “In Reverse,” is also the last song on Lost in the Dream. It’s an ostentatious reminder of the group’s growth—and how rewarding it will be to watch in the years to come. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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