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Only a few artists are gifted enough to write hair-raising, fists-in-the-air, pedal-to-the-floor rock 'n' roll anthems: U2, Bruce Springsteen and Arcade Fire are proven pros, but maybe The War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel should be added to that class, too.
On the Philadelphia group's second studio album, Slave Ambient, Granduciel and his band — which once included singer Kurt Vile — craft a seamless set of tunes that veer from cinematic ruminations to full-blown rockers. It's hard to single out just one track, but "Your Love Is Calling My Name" stands as the album's most powerful moment. It's a rousing six-minute anthem, built around two simple chords and spiked with wonderful atmospherics, from reverse tape loops to echo-soaked electronic drums.
Underneath the fuzz, Granduciel proves he's also a sharp wordsmith, and his devotional, heartfelt words are dispensed with the right amount of bad-boy sneer. When he sings, "If there's a weight on you / Then it's on me, too," it's as if he's whispering the sentiment to a loved one while cruising the highway on a Harley, fearlessly hand-cranking the accelerator.