by Fluffy Cat // Alumni DJ
The War on Drugs has been a band in the vein of other artists that I have found deep-rooted kinship with, others like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Bob Dylan. Adam Granduciel’s raspy vocals arguably echo Dylan more than any other artist in popular Americana/folk rock, and the lead single “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” even echoes the man who he channels in some of his greatest songs.
I am still a new listener to the band (having been brought in with my excitement over tracks such as “Pain” echoing my very existence) but I must say: the lead single instills this belief that the album will be one of my favorites this year.
“I Don’t Live Here Anymore”, the title track, is a punch in the face for me. From the title of the song, it feels like this man has a great sense of sympathy with me. As a transient individual, on the crossroads between my undergraduate degree and law school, trying to find their way, every lyric of this song speaks to my very soul.
That sense of raw isolation, feeling like a stranger with nowhere to go but everything weighing on them, hits me at the right time. Couple this with the isolation that the past year and a half has placed upon all of our shoulders, and the track hits a more universal appeal. I expect this one to be a song that echoes through the ages, one that grizzled indie fans might pass to a disillusioned youth unsure about where they’re going.
This message hits a synth-laden sound that evokes a nostalgic feel, completely going against my internal expectations of what the song might sound like from a read of the lyrics. Yet, each part of the song intertwines to make a beautiful unity. Lucius, as featured artists, assist in filling out the lush, yet not overblown, instrumentation, assisting at all levels to further elevate the song.
A particular highlight of their inclusion to me is the vocal accompaniment to the chorus. When they sing “We’re all just walkin’ through this darkness on our own,” it just makes the message punch harder. It’s the most important line in the whole song to me, and its repetition in the end as the song fades out reinforces this. It wades through the instrumentation, up to the point where the entire track fades to prepare for the next one.
I would say that this song is most like Tom Petty, of the aforementioned artists, in its sensibilities. The track does not shy away from retrospective sensibility—the synth cements that, and the track just reminds me of “Learning to Fly”—but the message is something that is wholly timeless. I have listened to it time and time in the last few days in preparation for the album to drop.
As I write this, it should be coming out on Friday. My review will probably be late, and it will be only the first part of my review of the whole album, but singling it out highlights how good of a song this is. I am sure that it is to join the annals of tracks like Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.”; The Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You”; Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames”, and The Decembrists’ “Make You Better” as the ones that show up on indie radio as first glimpses into catalogues studded with tracks that stop and then restart the tape deck hearts of people like me.
I cannot understate how important this track is for me in this moment, and I view it as one of the best new things I have heard in a year that has been particularly packed with quality tracks. I hope that it is remembered. I highly recommend it, and believe that you should listen to it if any of these artists intrigue you.
Listen to The War on Drugs' new single here!