BY STEVE WILSON
The War on Drugs … Adam Granduciel’s band is named for America’s dubious ‘war on drugs,’ initiated by Richard Nixon in 1971, which has subsequently cost the American people roughly $51,000,000,000.00 annually. Of course Granduciel’s war may be more personal. Yet the allusion is a knowing one.
On Lost in the Dream, Granduciel’s dream sounds like an updating and reimagining of the very Seventies from which the band’s namesake sprang. Specifically, it sounds like the Seventies gestalt of Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne, wide screen white-soul narratives, filtered through the Eighties and its lusher, synthesizer suffused, travelogues – albums from Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. to Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold, and all with the sonorous, melancholy patina of Disintegration era Cure.
That this is hipster friendly says a lot about the current state of beards and flannel at college radio, baby. And I come to praise Lost in the Dream, not to bury it. The currents and contradictions in pop culture just tickle me; the same way Led Zeppelin haters sanctify the White Stripes.
Granduciel’s songs envelop you. As soon as you understand the lyrics for one song, another song buries words in hushed reverb. He lets you closer, but not too close. The songs are a chronicle, but one for a solipsistic era, a two-for-one age – more communication, and more alienation. There’s none of Springsteen’s pained outreach, but plenty of the burned out basement malaise of early Seventies Neil Young.
Influences fly by like monkeys in the Wizard of Oz – the vaguely Celtic solo break in “Red Eyes;” the Plastic Ono band thump of “Suffering” (beautiful, spiraling guitar solo here); “Disappearing,” with its evocation of “Expecting to Fly” vintage Young/Buffalo Springfield (more profoundly felt when Kurt Vile was his partner, on the band’s debut, Wagonwheel Blues); the Ronnie Lane/Bob Dylan hymn of resignation, “Eyes to the Wind;” finally, the whole album oddly encapsulated in the Avalon-brevity of “The Haunting Idle.”
Lost in the Dream is, well, dreamlike. And it’s about loss. What kind of dream? What sort of loss? As Granduciel repeats in the title track, “it’s always hard to tell.” And when you are ‘lost in the dream’ it certainly is.
Is a creative life possible? Can one stay out of the madness? What is Granduciel’s place in this world? What is ours? Well, “it’s always hard to tell.”
DOWNLOAD: “Eyes to the Wind,” “Suffering”