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The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore (Album Review)

Monday, 08 November 2021 Written by Graeme Marsh

Why tweak a successful formula? The War on Drugs’ fifth studio LP ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ asks just that, delivering an album that follows a familiar path to their last two efforts ‘A Deeper Understanding’ and ‘Lost in the Dream’. In fact, there’s so little to distinguish each collection that they could have been part of the same sessions.

Adam Granduciel has spent three years on this piece of work, recording tracks in seven studios, perhaps striving for perfection rather than a new direction. This time, he’s given us a grower with fewer standout tracks than earlier releases. As he claimed recently while hosting a Twitter Listening Party for the album, he clearly thinks the same: “We should play this every night—keep watering it—watch it grow”.

Opener Living Proof is an oddball choice for a starter, feeling more like an ideal track to close an album: it’s slow, boasting a warm chord sequence and Granduciel’s go-to electric tones, with the soloing towards its conclusion taking the plaudits. But, with its laid back attitude, it presents clues as to what this mid-paced, comfortable album is all about.

Sparkly guitars adorn Change as it chugs along inoffensively, seemingly reluctant to take centre stage. The directionless Victim is similar, and while these are decent songs they are also the epitome of nice. Rings Around My Father’s Eyes also plays the same tune.

‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is essentially music to unwind to, but it does have some grander moments, such as the title track. With its insistent hook and mentions of Bob Dylan, coupled with a vocal style similar to the legend himself, it’s a highlight. Tom Petty’s blueprints, meanwhile, are repurposed for another on Old Skin.

It’s the more up-tempo moments that really inject lifeblood into this album. The excellent Wasted sounds like an ode to Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, while the superb Harmonia’s Dream is comfortably the best thing here. According to Granduciel it was the LP’s problem child, but it’s classic War on Drugs with its chugging beat, addictively simple keyboard hook and stunning guitar soloing.

While instant fixes are hard to come by, repeated listens are rewarded. Granduciel may have chosen not to mess with his formula, but can that offer more than fine tuning? It’ll keep fans happy, of course, but when they aim for the stars they soar, so why not keep that foot on the pedal? When that happens, hold on to your hats.

The War On Drugs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon April 11 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Tue April 12 2022 - LONDON O2 Arena
Thu April 14 2022 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Sat April 16 2022 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Sun April 17 2022 - EDINBURGH Edinburgh Corn Exchange
Mon April 18 2022 - EDINBURGH Edinburgh Corn Exchange

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