The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient

I can only break out in a cold sweat at the thought of what condemned meat U2 would make of this material. A potential classic.



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Woah, digging the kind of hooks and licks made popular by The Boss and Tom Petty? No thanks. And actively listening to the preacher-isms of Freewheelin’ ol’ Bob Dylan? I shudder…I’ve never been one for Dylan’s minstrel muse. But the new record by War On Drugs has all these elements in spades and delivers… it delivers big style. It even gets hold of Arcade Fire unwieldly, lumpen, thumping gesture music and makes something really beautiful from the same ingredients. 



Maybe it’s because the record (especially informed through the singer’s quiet, non-histrionic delivery) has a reserved, awkward manner, akin to someone incredibly charming hiding their light under a bushel at a party. You never get the feeling you are being lectured to, and you can approach the subject in your own time. At times the whole thing just takes off to another plane, as in the marvellous passage that draws three tracks - Your Love is Calling My Name, The Animator and Come To the City – together in a shimmering and emotional package.



There’s also a feel of the Blue Nile’s dreamy vibe in things like Best Night and It’s Your Destiny. And the interludes of noise such as City Reprise broaden the template further, they could be off Spiritualised Electric Mainline’s Pure Phase. Or even Harmonia at their most kosmische. As such they add colour and breathing space to the rest of the LP.



I can only break out in a cold sweat at the thought of what condemned meat U2 would make of this material. A potential classic.