Slave Ambient - The War on Drugs

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Aug 19, 2011
    If the basic balance remains unchanged, the result has been a sound just enough of the War on Drugs' own as a result, which gets stronger and even more droned out and powerful as the album continues.
  2. Aug 19, 2011
    Slave Ambient is a well-crafted and euphoric album, but somehow it doesn't have much that sticks out.
  3. Aug 23, 2011
    The really amazing thing about the album is how anthemic and affirming it feels despite the near total absence of proper sing-along choruses.
  4. Aug 18, 2011
    Something's happening wherever you turn on tracks that are dense with detail and brilliant accumulations of incident, but never overwrought or too busy, sheer grace their common link. [Sep 2011, p.80]
  5. Aug 26, 2011
    A striking mix of rock and electronics on Philadelphia group's second record. [Sept. 2011, p. 94]
  6. Aug 16, 2011
    Slave Ambient doesn't recall the past so much as a bright, unexpected future, where bands like this inexplicably are still dreaming in new, refreshingly outsized ways.
  7. 70
    There are so many distinct yet intertwined influences peppered throughout Slave Ambient it would be remarkably easy to lose the thread altogether. Yet somewhere in the haze it all just kind of… fits.
  8. Aug 12, 2011
    This fully delivers on the potential that 2008's Wagonwheel Blues hinted at, a swath of nostalgia in a storm of mind-bending audio. This is boss-gaze, and-sorry, old dudes and purity chasers-it's stupendous.
  9. Aug 9, 2011
    Slave Ambient feels like a more back-alley Byrds filtered through a gauzier Spacemen 3 lens.
  10. Aug 15, 2011
    Slave Ambient is an amazing record, but it is far from immediate as these songs take time to develop into something tangible.
  11. Aug 15, 2011
    Thanks to a couple of moments where they give in to the anthemic impulses, the rest of Slave... can afford to drift along at its own singular pace, with rewarding results.
  12. Jan 4, 2012
    Slave Ambient makes a triumph of the unlikely premise that US heartland rock and Krautrock would mix like old friends.... A wonderful record.
  13. Aug 16, 2011
    Slave Ambient continues themes of wanderlust and searching that were all over the other records, but as Granduciel sings of friends gone, of calling loved ones home, of trying to find his place in the world changing around him, the music behind him seems to be searching too.
  14. Aug 15, 2011
    It's easy to get lost in the pleasant, euphoric drone, but at 47 minutes the album is more of a marathon than a sprint.
  15. Aug 15, 2011
    With a little more time to perfect their style, the War on Drugs would be well-positioned to win converts for both camps, and also their own.
  16. Aug 17, 2011
    More often than not, Slave Ambient offers a sound that's equally familiar and new, simultaneously meeting expectations and evading them. It's an album whose immediate accessibility cloaks a deeper, subtler series of rewards.
  17. 80
    While it's a rippin' windows-down Boss tune, the ragged production and especially the 30 second fadeout sound incongruent with the rest of the album's humming undertones. Despite that, the album still rides like a dream along the freeway and blazes forward on its own path more than it follows in the footsteps of the others.
  18. Aug 12, 2011
    Slave Ambient as a whole may be more confused than your average reality show star at a Mensa meeting, but it's full of decent songs with a lot of heart.
  19. Aug 22, 2011
    Similar to its other releases, the band masters even the several lyric-less shorter tracks serving as musical intermissions scattered sporadically throughout.
  20. Aug 26, 2011
    Although these judgments point toward Slave Ambient being among the top records the summer of 2011 has to offer, the record's off-axis dichotomy, now favoring studio-assembled mellowness, steals enough of the bite and traction from these songs to keep it merely a contender.
  21. Aug 10, 2011
    Vile may get all the end-of-year glory, but his comrade's first full-length effort is just as laudable and commendable.
  22. Aug 16, 2011
    It's a rock album that mixes 30-year-old influences with the deep, hazy production of indie synth-poppers like M83.
  23. 80
    Crafted with a strong presence in realizing the sequencing and tracking through it all, it unquestionably rewards with repeated listens.
  24. Aug 9, 2011
    Slave Ambient is the work of a band making us listen for every piece of them.
  25. Aug 16, 2011
    Comfortably normal, the War on Drugs make for a nice tonic to the sometimes overly weird attitudes of modern indie-psych bands.
  26. Aug 15, 2011
    It's classic Americana rock at its best, combining musical echoes of Springsteen and Dylan but crafted with a poet's eye for detail. Dreamy, infectious, and full of hope. A powerful antidote to all those who say the best days of American classic rock are well over.
  27. Aug 16, 2011
    Once again, The War on Drugs have crafted an album of the year, built not upon flash or novelty, but a new take on traditional rock and roll that is always pushing forward.
  28. Hopefully Slave Ambient will do for The War On Drugs what Smoke Ring For My Halo did for Kurt Vile and place Adam Granduciel as one of the musicians with serious talent and songwriting acumen in modern indie rock.
  29. Aug 19, 2011
    Whilst it may lack the game-changing originality of other big 2011 releases, the record spans half a century of musical history more effectively than any other in recent memory.
  30. 60
    He sounds like Bob Dylan or Tom Petty when he sings – laconic, nasal, matter of fact – but his songs thrum and drone and hum like, well, loose ambient rock.
  31. Aug 22, 2011
    While the record might have benefited from some more discrimination on the cutting room floor, it's still a focused, complete record and a pleasurable listen.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Sep 1, 2011
    A lot of great bands have put out records this year. This album is hands down, my favorite! If you are a fan of Kurt Vile, I can't see you not adoring this. It's very different yet you can tell they have played together for several years and their influences rub off on each other in so many different and amazing ways! Fantastic band puts out a fantastic record! Full Review »
  2. Aug 19, 2011
    Well, all i can say is that they are the new Stone Roses. How great is that? I say it is very great to experience experimental grooves that are so well mixed-up and with a purpose. Full Review »
  3. j30
    Nov 23, 2011
    This record kind of reminds me of Urban Hymes by the Verve, without the catchy grooves. Being catchy doesn't necessarily mean it's bad or good. In this case, it's very good. Full Review »