The War on Drugs co-founder Kurt Vile (who left around 2008 to focus on his solo career) may have been the one totally “obsessed with Bob Dylan” at the time of its inception, but continuing tWoD frontman Adam Granduciel seems to share that obsession, as far as his voice is concerned. Lost in the Dream also shows a propensity for both Tom Petty‘s uptempo chugging grooves and vocal inflection, punctuated by slightly shoegaze-ier twist on ’80’s synth lines.
However, Granduciel’s nods to the on-and-off favorite decade of hipster bands are freshened up with psychedelic guitar ambience, several-minute songs with extended jam-band bridges featuring low register woodwinds, and lyricism that’s oh-so-tired. Which is to say: bluntly and beautifully conveying an underdog’s exhaustion. Not as in clichéd.
Although, there are just a couple lines that feel a bit too familiar – such as the title lyric in opener “Under the Pressure,” which is delivered just like the similar refrain in the Queen–Bowie hit. To boot, “Eyes to the Wind” sees Granduciel going full Dylan – his voice is a deadringer here for Bob, while he strums acoustic guitar with an original country vibe, all the while laying down imagery about “a cold wind blowin’ down my old road.”
But even that knee-jerk association is out-shined by the track’s incredibly gradual build into a Springsteen sort of slow climax, wrapped around the key, embarrassed line “just a bit run down here at the moment” featuring a saxophone, no less. Even more frank is his take on dwindling relationships on “Suffering:” [LISTEN]
While in “An Ocean in Between the Waves,” he sums up the effects that these personal relationships, his roller-coaster indie career, his David approach in a Goliath industry, and his self-worth all have on each other: [LISTEN]
That may be a huge chunk of text, but there’s really no fat to trim from it. In terms of portraying the countless man-hours put into this project, the strain it’s had for him on loved ones, and the feeling that he’s finally getting recognition for it (arguably more so than ever before), it’s a solid paragraph of self-awareness that’s universally listenable. As such, this record is certainly honest, not to mention versatile – broken up by orchestral instrumentals almost at Kid A levels, with a solid variety in tempo and emotional tone.