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CD: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

CD: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

Riveting marriage of Germany and America from Philadelphia

'Slave Ambient': it took The War on Drugs to make a pact between Krautrock and Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen and Krautrock might not seem obvious kin, but the second album from Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs brings them together. It’s not clear what’s coming as Slave Ambient opens, but this is a dizzying, audacious and supremely confident journey that marries the seemingly disparate.

There is a precedent though. Finland’s intense and stellar post-Spacemen 3 trio Joensuu 1685 made Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” their own, turning it into a slab of Neu/La Dusseldorf white-light intensity. The War on Drugs's main man Adam Granduciel is probably unaware of these Suomi shamen, and it’s extraordinary that someone else has made this sonic connection.

Slave Ambient opens less surprisingly with a trio of muzzy, Americana-ish cuts that suggest a foggy, groggy Paisley Underground-assisted take on Springsteen and Tom Petty. There’s a little Lindsay Buckingham in there, especially on third song “I Was There”. It’s a more satisfying take on this than the recent Vetiver album. Things take off with the fourth track, “Your Love is Calling my Name”. The rhythm is a relentless, repetitive motorik chug. A keyboard pulse adds texture. Granduciel sings of the “freeway to the harbour”. It’s still recognisably American. The textural cloud that cloaks “Come to the City” could be employed by Spiritualized, yet the song itself swells and surges like a great US pop anthem. “Baby Missiles” is upbeat Suicide riding with Tom Petty. The instrumental title track is mesmerising.

Slave Ambient is off the wall. Brilliant too.

Watch the video for "Come to the City"

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