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Slave Ambient by The War on Drugs

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Reviewed on 11th September 2011.


Slave Ambient

By The War on Drugs

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that this second album from Adam Granduciel's The War On Drugs has much in common with Kurt Vile's two records given that Vile is a collaborator and sometime member of the band. Like Vile's last album, 'Slave Ambient.' is full of classic American rock refracted through the prism of motorik Krautrock and MC5-style churning distortion, but where Vile keeps things relatively straight, Granduciel adds a twist of narcoleptic psyche-ambience to the potent mix that positions him closer to the questing likes of Mercury Rev.

There are no big hooks on this album - Granduciel prefers to trade in circular, repetitive structures that burrow into your subconscious - and on first listen the album seems to merge into one mid-tempo whole, but what Slave Ambient has in abundance is an addictive, infectious charm and yearning beauty that reveals itself slowly, but once it has its hooks in you it won't be dislodged. Opener 'Best Night' encapsulates everything that is good about the record with its glistening, featherlight guitar line, twinkling piano and reverb-heavy vocals. 'Your Love Is Calling My Name' has a hypnotically propulsive chug, 'Baby Missiles' recasts Springsteen's anthemic blue collar rock as a piece of cosmic americana that has its eyes focused on the stars rather than the road, whilst closer 'Blackwater' possesses an exquisitely lilting acoustic guitar figure overlaid with a glittering lead line provided by Vile, topped off with a fragile vocal that speaks of great longing and recalls Dylan at his most affecting. With 'Slave Ambient,' Granduciel has created a thrillingly evocative and transcendent set of near-faultless songs.



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