favorite albums 2011: number ten
10. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
Adam Granduciel’s voice has a slightly more melodious Dylanesque tone to it, especially in the way he delivers his lyrics, dispensing them matter-of-factly over the band’s dreamy landscapes of layered guitars. The Stone Roses immediately come to mind as a reference point for the sound of Slave Ambient (though it’s definitely a bit more countrified), and it’s easy to get lost in the album as songs bleed into each other and melodies are repurposed over the course of its forty minutes. From foot-stompers like ‘Baby Missile’ that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Tom Petty album, to more contemplative numbers such as ‘It’s Your Destiny’ whose guitar tones shade into British folk territory, Slave Ambient is paced perfectly and would be equally enjoyable to listen to on a long road trip as it is to zone out to on headphones at home. The production is a wonderful blur of washed out rhythm guitars and muted drums, with crystal clear lead guitar lines echoing over the top of it all, as Granduciel sings in world-weary tones about loves, regrets and fate. That this all managed to sound so new was a wonderful surprise, and made The War on Drugs one of my favorite discoveries of the year.