The War on Drugs makes big songs, meant for arena-scale rock reveries. In 2022, they’ll embark on a headlining tour at the biggest venues they’ve ever played (including Madison Square Garden), stepping onto stages that match the scope of their music. Yet the latest album from the six-piece led by Adam Granduciel, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, marks a turn towards directness and concision.
Don’t worry! If you like The War on Drugs’ previous work, chances are you’ll like I Don’t Live Here Anymore, out Friday, October 29th. The band’s fifth LP and their first since 2017’s Grammy-winning A Deeper Understanding still showcases the group’s texture-rich, somehow-original revisions of the most-winning aspects of mid-’80s commercial rock.
Each of the 10 tracks runs over four minutes, most hovering in the five-to-six-minute range, long enough to catch a groove. But for a band that invokes the revels, wallows, and tangents of psychedelia, an album clocking in under an hour is radio-edit minimalist.
This tightening-up is both intentional and determined by circumstances: While A Deeper Understanding was the result of extensive live recording sessions with the full band, this creative process was limited by time and distance. In 2019, Granduciel, 42, and his partner, actor Krysten Ritter, welcomed their first child — a son named Bruce, of course. Then the pandemic hit, and suddenly collaboration transformed from long, obsessive hours in a studio to exchanges over email.
While The War on Drugs sound is built for live performance, and on this record Granduciel was still composing for the stage (and big stages, at that), things had to change.