THE WAR ON DRUGS want to turn back the clock and make believe that all music ended in about 1985. Drawing on touchstones such a vintage BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TOM PETTY and later day BOB DYLAN, the War on Drugs craft an ode to Reagan era pop music that ends up sounding a lot like the most recent ARCADE FIRE album.
This is not meant as a slam on the bands most recent work, "Slave Ambient". In fact I quite like the record and have a deeper appreciation for it each time I dive into it. But it's hard to get passed the comparisons. Lead singer Adam Granducial morphs his voice to imitate Petty in one song, then Bruce, then Dylan. One the opening track, the medium paced "Best Night" he takes Petty's southern twang out for a spin. "Brothers" actually sounds like a BRUCE HORNSBY song minus the piano (which is saying something since that was his signature instrument.) "Your Love is Calling My Name" and "Baby Missiles" are where the Arcade Fire comps come in. The mix of keyboards, driving drums and Granducial's yelping vocals would have been very much at home on "The Suburbs". "Come to the City" has a touch of 80's era U2 with the chorus like remnant of "With or Without You".
The joy of listening to this record is not in a sense of originality but in how the band takes such care to honor their musical heroes without totally falling into outright karaoke. It's a high wire act for sure, but one that they pull off with admirable ability.