Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The passing states work on us. They get to us and the travel through our bones and our blood, wrapping us up like skin. At times, we get too stressed out to even see straight. We feel as if we might just take the car over the cliff or a sudden impulse could just lead us to jerking the wheel to the right, ramming the thing head-on, directly into the concrete bridge embankment, ending it all in one gigantic fire ball. These are the times that make us suffer and rely on our releases. It's what brings us to thumping our packs of cigarettes to get the tobacco in the right place. It's what leads us to guiltily trudging down to the local bar for a lengthy nightcap. None of this is what we think about doing when we listen to the records made by Philadelphia band, The War On Drugs. As a matter of fact, we think very opposite things. As people, we often wonder what the appeal is for dogs thrusting their heads out of cars, as they motor down the road, whipping their head and neck fur back as the quick and cool air blinds them. We get closer to the answer as we listen to lead singer Adam Granduciel and band's latest masterpiece, "Slave Ambient." It's a salve to any high blood pressure times, to anything that might borderline on stress. It's a record that has us throwing our own heads out of the windows of moving cars and we can understand why it's done by our tail-wagging best friends. It makes our cheeks tickle and it lets us get smothered by the rushing fields and the bleeding colors, just swimming in the maelstrom of sensations and wonders that can get no closer to us than arm's length unless we decide to stop and walk around, which we don't do because then we'd never get to where we're heading. We can think about such a thing philosophically, accepting the conflicting ideas of arrival where we intend to go and the journey through the good stuff as it disappears forever, mostly lost to the scenic goodbye. Granduciel writes the way we feel when we're one sheet to the wind, in the middle of the afternoon. We're not drunk, but we feel good. We feel like we're settling in for a little bout of introspection that's going to do us a bit of good. We feel nostalgic for the things that just happened, things that we can't take back, things we'd love to live again - already -- and things that we know should be left behind, the artifacts of our fingerprints and our personal smudges. His songs are like the light kisses of fleeting thoughts and dreams we once had lying around doing nothing for the longest time, or doing nothing forever. The dreams sound half-cooked, those of a real dreamer's heart and yet the songs come across as a montage of a brilliant life filled with little that a biographer would ever find of importance, but that was the man and what he was and it was good.