It has been hellish trying to choose the best song off the best album of 2014. Adam Granduciel and his Philadelphia rock titans in War on Drugs have swept most of the of the end of year polls with "Lost in a Dream" and rightly so. The album grew of Adam Granduciel's ruminations on restlessness, the end of a long tour and a burnt out long term relationship. It starts with the near nine minute pulsating anthem "Under the Pressure" and does not let up. One critic has described Adam Granduciel's music as the missing link between Bruce Springsteen and Spacemen 3. Somehow he manages to take traditional rock templates and invert them, with a hint of Can, a chord change that can push a song into the stratosphere and some of the best guitar work either side of the Atlantic. Your reviewer recently saw the band in Bristol supported by the superb Steve Gunn; it was pure Les Paul heaven.
All tracks on the album stand out but in "Ocean in between the waves" and "Eyes to the Wind" Adam Granduciel has recorded his two greatest songs, The former is a driving guitar track which jumps off the record and blazes a charge in the concert setting that requires you to pause and take breath. It is however the slower Dylan-esque strains of "Eyes to the Wind" which has been played so much since this albums release that you could run a small train along its deeply embedded grooves. This is Granduciel staking his claim to be up there with the rock greats and emerge as every bit their equal. He is a classic rock purist and has learnt his trade well. The lyrics affirm the general exhaustion that underpinned his relentless work ethic and the sweat and toil which created this album. At one point he confesses that "I'm a bit run down here at the moment" and with other song titles littered across the album like the "Suffering" and "Red Eyes" you get his drift.
"Eyes to the wind" is jammed packed with world weary references not least the reflection that "Yeah' I'm all alone here/Living in darkness". Yet ultimately it is a song of hope where at your lowest ebb you face forward and move on. It is the best song from the best album of 2014 bar none. One wonders whether it will also see an appropriate response from his friend and musical sparring partner Kurt Vile. If so Philadelphia could become the new rock capital of the US.
Review by Red on Black