The War on Drugs: I Don't Live Here Anymore (Atlantic) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 28th, 2022  

The War on Drugs

I Don’t Live Here Anymore

Atlantic

Nov 01, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


To experience the past as a present reality is a core human reality. We hold on to someone long gone, feel the pain of lost time in our chest, bask in the euphoria of the good days. But getting lost in the dreams of yesterday is a dangerous game. We can forget to let our memories aid us in our journey forward and instead become stagnant, always looking backward. It’s straight into the midst of this past-future tension that Adam Granduciel’s The War on Drugs have steered us with their expansive, zephyrous heartland rock across the years. Their new album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, is a confident continuation down that path—toward living in harmony with what was while keeping a hopeful eye toward what can be.

Noticeably, Granduciel’s singing, which has been drowned in a wind of reverb on past records, is front and center here. Whether this is an attempt at demystifying the band’s dreamy aesthetic or a growth in confidence as a frontman or an attempt to draw more attention to the group’s lyricism is unclear. But all would seem valid arguments. The straightforward punch of the vocal performance on the title track (bolstered by a monstrous chorus featuring Lucius), for example, adds clarity to Granduciel’s persistent climb out of his quicksand memory into the light. It’s a tender optimism that guides I Don’t Live Here Anymore. When Granduciel can only see faith and beauty as a distant memory on “Harmonia’s Dream,” that optimism reminds him, “Sometimes forwards is the only way back/To reach the hill in time.” Too often, this phrase gets inverted and sentimentality reigns. But not here.

As with its lyricism, I Don’t Live Here Anymore is warm and inviting in its songcraft and production. Granduciel’s honeybee-buzz guitar solos on “Victim” and “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” the soaring synths—it all invokes and innovates the late ’80s works of Tom Petty and Don Henley. And like those artists’ greatest hits, these songs are significantly tighter than past records. One could imagine the title track, for example, fitting on Top 40 radio beside Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” in 1984.

It seems as though the recent cross-pollination with the more pop-friendly Killers has born fruit in exceedingly effective ways, moreso for The War on Drugs than The Killers. While some may miss the long extended jams and ambient leanings of songs like “Thinking of a Place,” I Don’t Live Here Anymore is truly successful as an arena-ish rock record. It’s perhaps their most accessible record, yet never sacrifices the core elements that have made The War on Drugs one of the greatest rock groups of the last decade. It’s the past and future in harmony. Growing and narrowing focus without total reinvention. Reckoning with heartbreak through resurrection. On the title track, Granduciel defies the darkness of stagnation and remembered pain, singing, “I’m gonna walk through every doorway, I can’t stop.” And I know he can’t. (www.thewarondrugs.net)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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