The War on Drugs
Wagonwheel Blues


3.5
great

Review

by RivalSkoomaDealer USER (23 Reviews)
August 23rd, 2013 | 8 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There is no urgency.

Failure can motivate one to the grandest of inspirations. While American politicians have waged their personal vendetta on drugs for almost half a century now, the Philly based Americana revivalists The War on Drugs have used that colossal misfire as a branch for creativity. What some such as journalist David Simon see as a “holocaust in slow motion,” Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel see a catalyst for youthful expression.

With roots that draw heavily from the likes of Dylan and Springsteen, it would be an injustice to dismiss the group as a tired rip off. The War on Drugs brand of soulful rock n’ roll is unique in its own right. It often meanders off in a dazed electronic fervor or an introspective post rock movement. It is equal parts Tom Petty and Sonic Youth. It harkens back to a more innocent time, when the corruption of American bureaucracy was executed in a more discreet manner; a time when the youth were as a much a danger to corporate agenda as foreign power. The phonographic nostalgia invoked on Wagonwheel Blues may never garner the same response as the cultural revolution of the late sixties did but it sure feels authentic to it. It serves as an allegory for political and social injustice that feels as relevant today as Dylan did in the sixties. Granduciel’s lyrics tear at the fabric of societal failings such as on opener “Arms Like Boulders”: "And so now that you realize that planets are spheres with oil on the inside / And your God is only a catapult waiting for the right time to let you go into the unknown."

Despite the album’s droning and (at times) lack of self awareness, it never fails to intrigue from start to finish. Its ambience lingers on the ears, demanding a flowery post rock climax that never fully blossoms. The closest it comes to this is on penultimate track “Show Me the Coast” when a steady snare resounds over ambient textures and signals the approaching conclusion of the ten minute jam. “There Is No Urgency” builds from silence into a slow haunting requiem, brilliantly displaying that the band aren’t so much concerned with the end result but the ride itself.

The themes that the War on Drugs evoke are purely American, a tribute to a society that struggles against the wagon wheels of our generation but never cease to strive toward progression. With a wink and a nod, they tip their hat at what came before, embracing the future with open arms.



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
RivalSkoomaDealer
August 23rd 2013


996 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Because this really needed a review, damnit! Not quite as good as the follow up but still worth your while.

Chesse
August 23rd 2013


529 Comments


I heart drugs

wabbit
August 23rd 2013


7035 Comments


ROBIN!

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
December 3rd 2013


6515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shame this only has four comments. Album is incredible, and Slave Ambient even more so.

RivalSkoomaDealer
December 5th 2013


996 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

clercqie have you heard the new track? It's so tasty. Can't wait for their next effort.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2013


6515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's very promising to say the least. :]

robin
Emeritus
February 28th 2014


4261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fuck i forgot how good this is

robin
Emeritus
February 28th 2014


4261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if you feel it in the oh zone zone you can feel it in the knees knees knees



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