Song 98: The War on Drugs, “Baby Missiles” (2011)

war_on_drugs_slave_ambient

It’s always interesting to me how a song’s or artist’s influences reveal  themselves. Sometimes the sound is so obvious that it feels like pure imitation, which usually results in a song with novelty and not much else. Other artists use those influences to make something new, a song that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

For example, “Baby Missiles” has some pretty clear influences–I hear Dire Straits and “Workin’ on the Highway”-era Springsteen–but it’s also distinctly a War on Drugs song. Why does this one add up to more than a Knopfler/Boss impression? I don’t think I can answer that one, but I suspect it’s in the song’s strengths. If you stripped away the ’80s touches, leaving just Adam Granduciel and a guitar, you’d still have a hell of a song. The rest is just fun for us old people to pick apart.

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