With glowing reviews for Lost in the Dream pouring in leading up to its release on Secretly Canadian Records today — City Paper’s current cover story, Stereogum’s rambling prose, Dan DeLuca’s Sunday Inquirer review, Pitchfork’s 8.8 — it was the first one I read about the new War on Drugs record that struck me. Steven Hyden’s gorgeous piece for Grantland broadly paints the new album as the vehicle propelling them into larger and louder rooms, and gets into a personal space with Adam Granduciel that I don’t recall ever seeing. Specifically, it mentions August 2012 as the starting point for the record’s introspective content, which often broods and borders in the darkness, in spite of generally upbeat tunes.
I spent my own August 2012 in darkness, a personal nadir struggling with a divorce and an ugly employment scene in Portland, Ore., after getting laid off from a longtime job. Sunken in depression and anxiety, and frequently questioning my departure from Philadelphia three years prior, I got a pick-me-up from some familiar faces when The War on Drugs rolled through at Portland’s Pickathon festival. (Dr. Dog, who for years rehearsed in the same building the Drugs do now, was also on the bill.) With a colorful fabric canopy breathing above and Mount Hood in the sunny distance, the band’s layered wall of sound at least temporarily washed away the darkness.