The War on Drugs are the Dire Straits of our era, tremendous musicians turned unlikely rockstars that are on the brink of facing an unfair backlash. They can’t help being this liked or having their name featured on practically every modern rock playlist. It’s a strange predicament to have, but one that can surely of Adam Granduciel, one of the most gifted modern musicians to achieve undeniable commercial acceptance.
On their new album, 2021’s I Don’t Live Here Anymore, Granduciel does the only sensible thing left. There’s no charging for the top of the charts. There’s no attempt to pull at every heartstring. Even more so, there’s no desire to hide the group’s newly acquired fame. I Don’t Live Here Anymore is a pleasant trip through melancholy and hopefulness. Adam Granduciel made a record that feels unburdened by the weight of expectation.
Take the lead single, title track I Don’t Live Here Anymore, for example. Once more, The War on Drugs sound like musicians creating highway companions in the vein of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen. The reverb flows freely helping support the emotion of the lyrics. Sadness with a tinge of optimism is what The War on Drugs deals best in.
Harmonia’s Dream hints at modern pop hooks, albeit completed by Granduciel’s raspy storytelling. Change finds The War on Drugs playing it sweet and safe. Living Proof hints towards the sparse soundscapes a la Lost in the dream.
I Don’t Live Here Anymore is a strong collection of songs by a band that ever since their debut looked destined for success. It’s also a safe record that emphasizes the group’s love of classic rock and pop. The War on Drugs may not be cool. But, after all, Mark Knopfler was always a guitar icon, not a fashion role model.