You can’t help but notice the musical allusions and references Philadelphia’s the War on Drugs are making on their latest full length of shoegaze-tinged Americana, Slave Ambient. It’s not just Adam Granduciel’s vocals, but the entire style of opening track “Best Night“ alludes to Bob Dylan, while the anthemic “Baby Missiles” plays to the unabashed Bruce Springsteen worship that has become so common throughout indie rock in the past couple years. There is even reference to the ambient, Joshua Tree-era U2 production style of Daniel Lanois as “The Animator” gently leads into “Come to the City.”
That being said, The War on Drugs manages to proudly wear their influences on their sleeve while still creating an original and engaging album. Slave Ambient is a wonderful collection of huge, unobtrusive songs that envelope the listener in a reverb-drenched American soundscape. This captivating album flows as a unit—all the songs are stitched together with ambient interludes that manage to let the listener to drift off without losing their attention. Altogether, Slave Ambient is a strong, upbeat release by a passionate and talented band with a big future.