Now, six years removed from the split with Vile, Granduciel has released The War on Drugs’ fourth album, Lost In A Dream, which is so far my, and plenty of music critics’, favorite album of 2014.
And what has Vile been up to during the ascendance of his former collaborator? Last year Vile released Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze, which was the fifth album written and produced under his own name since 2008. Paste Magazine ranked the album the sixth best of 2013, and Pitchfork ranked it the 13th best album of 2013.
This current column supplants a relationship advice column from last volume: sometimes break-ups truly are for the best, the point being that finding the best version of one’s self post-relationship tends to take time, just like the development of a complex verse into the reward of a beautiful, sweeping chorus.
The laudations currently raining down upon both Vile and Granduciel are impressive not just because they deserve it, but because at one point those same laudations could have been singular.
In terms of creative minds splitting for the better, the closest music comparison that comes to mind is the French rock group Phoenix. Previously called Darlin’, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo were once band mates in Versailles with Thomas Mars, Deck D’arcy, Chris Mazzali and Laurent Brancowitz. Then, Bangalter and Homem-Christo left their friends to form Daft Punk. Similarly, Vile and Granduciel are now forcing critics to write twice as much praise as they might have had to in an alternate future.
Whether or not Vile and Granduciel will ever receive as much mainstream recognition as Daft Punk and Phoenix remains to be seen. My bet is that they never will. Vile is Bob Dylan if Dylan hadn’t originally been pigeonholed into acoustic. Vile’s melodies are less memorable, forcing you to re-listen to the song that infected your brain.
Granduciel’s The War on Drugs, on the other hand, is a mix between Tom Petty melodica and Leslie Buckingham, circa Rumours. And that slow-burning tension I mentioned at the beginning? No album of 2014 has yet featured so many songs that are completely transformed with simple chord changes that follow a lyrical build up. Indeed, break-ups can be a good thing.