The War on Drugs have announced I Don’t Live Here Anymore, their first studio album since 2017’s A Deeper Understanding. Ahead of the new album’s release on October 29, the band has shared the first track, “Living Proof.”
Cover art for the last couple of War on Drugs records has consisted of singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel’s profile brooding and shuttered in a room, surrounded by shadows ready to eat him alive. On the just-released album cover for I Don’t Live Here Anymore, a man is trotting through snow, carrying a guitar and a latte. A face is right out of frame, likely smiling and winking at a camera. Someone is on the move, and they aren’t mad about it.
On the splendid live album, Live Drugs (2020), and his preceding studio work of the 2010s, Granduciel gazes into the horizon, then plots sweeping journeys toward the beyond with heartland roots rock soaked in latter-day Pink Floyd sensibilities. Electric guitars and synths are topped with pianos carrying the warm tone of 1980’s Bruce Hornsby. A harmonica always waits in the wings to dig into the earth and recall simpler times. Drums both acoustic and programmed set to blast at any moment. Upon this flotilla of machinery, Granduciel sings his ass off in between oceans of hazy feedback. These Springsteen-ish anthems rise out of the abyss to shake a fist at a storming sky, then return to the shimmering ether.
In this first taste of new material, Granduciel retreats and explores only the air near his fingers.
“Living Proof” clicks off every gadget and distortion pedal, then unplugs all but one amplifier. A hushed acoustic guitar dashes alone through a familiar street, hopeful to meet a friend. A piano joins its side, plucking lonely notes to every other chord. Granduciel sings of all that’s lost and can’t be recovered, knowing that all the change in his neighborhood mirrors the same change in his own reflection: I’ve been to the place that you’ve tried escaping / I can’t recall what I believe in / I’m always changing / Love overflowing.
The song blazes a singular path with one long verse, abandoning the War on Drugs’ typical ascent to the edge of a cliff, leading to an epic beat drop that leaps into the unknown. “Living Proof” reaches its hands toward the sky and spreads the fingers, absorbing sunshine, embracing a crooked mile that has no climax. Bass and drums don’t kick in until the very last line, But I’m risin’, and I’m damaged / Oh, rising’… A lonesome electric guitar starts looking to poke a hole in time, picking around notes that begin to bleed into a familiar wash of reverb. Listeners will have to wait a little bit longer to know exactly what’s on the other side.
This first taste of I Don’t Live Here Anymore is a meditation and acceptance of the change brought by each new day. For the first time in a long time, the War on Drugs are content to enjoy the setting sun instead of furiously chasing it into tomorrow.
Pre-order the record today at this link!