Secretly Canadian (2010) US
The War On Drugs is once again at the blurred edges of American music: overexposing studio limitations, piling tape upon tape to maximum density, and then — with each song — they pull off the scaffolding to reveal what sticks, keeping only what's absolutely necessary and dig into what sounds like the best kind of fucked up. As on their debut Wagonwheel Blues, they take small moments occurring over multiple tapes and multiple song versions, and put every last drop of trust in their own instinct of momentum.
Future Weather is a provocative — sometimes playful, sometimes weighty — glimpse into The War On Drugs' song-sculpting process, a process that remains a big mystery even to those on the inside. While some bands are content to merely pace the abyss, The War On Drugs coast through it. And along the way, Future Weather sidesteps most every connotation associated with the EP format. There's a true coalescence and symmetry here, one of wash and drone, of momentum and tone, but also of theme. Friendship, loyalty and keeping a group of spiritual brothers together are all themes that songwriter Adam Granduciel focuses in on for Future Weather. "Wondering where my friends are going / Wondering why they didn't take me / Looking out the window of my room / Looking out where something once ran wild," he sings on "Brothers" with a sense of soured peace, leaving out all the right things, leaving room in there for the shared experiences of your own friends. There are cues taken from our best American songwriters, yet The War On Drugs are wise enough to also implode or send themselves into outer space when the moment calls for it. The driving organ riff that pushes "Baby Missiles" may be inspired by a fever dream of Springsteen or Dire Straits more than any particular jam. And the endless layers of guitar melody and atmospherics of "Comin' Through," rather than add weight to the vessel, only work to fill its sails with warmer and warmer winds.