Single of the week: The War On Drugs – Living Proof review

by Phil Scarisbrick

It’s been some four years since The War On Drugs released A Deeper Understanding – their Grammy-nominated fourth album. The intervening period has been spent traversing the United States with more than a dozen sessions undertaken to create its follow-up, I Don’t Live Here Any More.

The album’s opener is also the first single, and Living Proof already moves The War On Drugs into territory that they haven’t delved as deeply into on their previous records. Although not a solo record by any stretch, it is the most introspective piece of writing we’ve heard from Adam Granduciel. Waltzy acoustic strums launch the track, and they remain constant as other instruments build around them. Granduciel is seemingly grasping for something that has left, or perhaps was never even there – ‘I went down to the corner, they’re building at my block / Maybe I’ve been gone too long, I can’t go back,’ he sings, as the vocal melody-driven piano builds around his voice, joined by loose sounding drums, before falling away into a more conventional rhythm as he concedes, ‘But I’m rising / And I’m damaged.’

A quintessentially War On Drugs’ guitar solo brings the song to a close – adding some familiarity – but the real star of the track though is Granduciel’s voice. Weathered and broken, it’s the same familiar voice, but different. Like an old painting, cracked and faded by time, but still full of the vibrant character that holds the essence of what has always hooked you in.

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