Review : The War on Drugs - Future Weather EP
Pitchfork"My friend/ Rides all alone." That's the War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel, on "Baby Missiles", the jittery, sorta-opening track to the Philadelphia ragged-rock band's new EP, Future Weather. It's literally impossible to tell who the friend in question is, but those familiar with the band's genesis could take a stab. Granduciel and Kurt Vile founded the band back in 2003, toiling away for five years and with various band members in the Philadelphia scene, leading up to their "big break" when Secretly Canadian took the group under their wing and put out their 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues. Then, Vile's solo material gained even greater attention than that of his main band, and he struck out on his own. He didn't leave the band, not exactly-- he's still a member, albeit not one who appears on Future Weather.
Laws of physics aside, it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to suggest that Granduciel and Vile have some sort of telepathy when creatively separated from each other. Just as Vile's latest EP, Square Shells, moved away from the tape-hissed classic rock sound of his previous releases and toward a lonelier, more reverb-coated place, Future Weather also takes a trip down a lyrically overcast road, littered with regret, isolation, and loss. The sentiments are frequently naked in presentation, especially in the lovelorn "Comin' Through" and just plain lonely "Brothers".
Adding to the record's bummed-out mood is the possibility that this release resulted from a point of frustration and personal disappointment. The majority of the EP was taken from seemingly since-scrapped sessions from the War on Drugs' follow-up to Wagonwheel Blues, suggesting that this release could represent a creative hand-washing from Granduciel, who recorded the majority of the EP by himself, with drummer Mike Zanghi and multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley filling in the gaps as necessary. Yet Future Weather doesn't sound rush-released-- instead, the band's compositional strengths and flair for sonic texture have clearly taken a leap forward. (See the sea of tangled guitars and far-off harmonica in "Brothers" or the knotty shuffle of "Comin' Through".) This stuff still sounds homespun, but the reel-to-reel feel of Wagonwheel Blues is mostly gone and replaced with something more fully realized. With one foot in the past and one foot in the uncertainty of now, it's exciting to see what these guys' next step will be....full text
PopdoseThere is nothing pristine about the new (12″ vinyl or digital download only) War On Drugs EP, Future Weather (Secretly Canadian). No one will be winning awards for audio recording. In fact, it’s a bit of a mess. But it’s one of those messes that manages to perfectly reflect the times that produced it.
Even calling it an EP is not quite correct. Yes, there are just eight songs, and the whole thing clocks in at less than 30 minutes, but there is a cohesiveness at work here that is not usually found on EPs. The Dylan comparisons are both valid, and too easy. If War On Drugs sounds like Dylan, it’s Dylan funneled through some sort of narcotic haze.
“Come To the City #14″ opens the album with the sound of a tape machine being turned on in the middle of a song, and serves as an overture for the album. Things really get started with the raucous “Baby Missiles,” which is driven hard by an insistent organ riff that’s like something out of a bizarro world Dire Straits song. The album’s best song is “Comin’ Thru,” which seems to chronicle the dissolution of an important relationship. In fact, it’s themes of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal that bind these songs together. As songwriter Adam Granduciel sings on “Brothers”:...full text
AvclubOn the Future Weather EP, promising Philadelphia band The War On Drugs comes on like a jumpy roots-rock outfit that never felt it necessary to dig past its collection of beat-up, mid-’80s Hooters and Tom Petty tapes. Future Weather doesn’t have a prairie pretense; you can practically feel singer-songwriter Adam Granduciel yearning for the open road while stuck in traffic during the groggy jangle of “Comin’ Through.” On the rousing highlight “Baby Missiles,” The War On Drugs kicks up splashy synths and insistent, rattling rhythms as Granduciel affects a hopped-up Win Butler yelp. The easy comparisons to Arcade Fire don’t end there on Future Weather, though the spooky, moonlight-drive vibe of the Dylan-esque “Brothers” has an economy of emotion and sonic texture that those Amish-looking Canadians would be wise to study. Less successful is the tumultuous sound collage “The History Of Plastic,” which lumbers about for eight minutes in search of a coherent melody or emotional thread. But even in its lesser moments, Future Weather has the hopeful melancholy of city boys staring into the night sky in search of visible stars....full text
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