The War on Drugs: 
Slave Ambient 

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The War on Drugs
Slave Ambient


(Secretly Canadian)

The War on Drugs is one of those bands you may never have heard, a problem they should soon overcome. The Philadelphia musicians haven't exactly done themselves many marketing favors in the past, keeping the focus on touring constantly, often in a number of other bands, while obsessing over the many, many layers of their multi-track recordings. It's also been a whole four years since they released their last full-length, Wagonwheel Blues. But now, after the lineup has settled into a comfortable company of four, they're set to release Slave Ambient, and it's a testament to the band's rare, almost outdated artistic integrity and devotion to craft, their story of eschewing expedience and the trappings of hype (i.e. moving to Brooklyn) to produce recorded music that has been long simmering and lovingly fussed over.

Album-opener "Best Night" begins with a muffled beat, one that quickly cuts over to swirling, layered guitars and warm, ambient swells, a steady texture of acoustic strumming underneath. It's kind of the format for much of the album, which, at its loveliest becomes an intricate melt of good vibes. Pull one track apart and you'll find other miniature songs, tracks and bits of ephemera clinging to each other to make up the whole. Frontman Adam Granduciel sings in a Bob Dylan-esque drawl, minus much of the grating nasal quality, giving the album a folky, spoken-word appeal. The ultimate effect: If you take a minute to imagine the road trip of your dreams, this would probably be 
the soundtrack.

Photo Darshana Borah

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