“Red Eyes” – The War on Drugs

It’s hard to write about a song that you love so much, but can barely sing along to. Adam Granduciel hides many of his lyrics deep beneath layers of guitars, synthesizers, distortion, and plain old mumbling. For much of the song, I’m just kind of humming along, guessing at words here and there, playing a little air guitar or drums, and making up words that seem to fit. And this is even after looking at numerous lyrics sites, which can’t seem to agree on several sections.[1] I was pleased to find a couple other reviews of the song in year end lists that made similar statements about the difficulty in discerning the lyrics.

What grabbed me about this song the first time I heard it last December was the quality that is present in so many of TWOD’s best songs: that sense of exuberant escape. We may not know which way he’s running, but that bountiful sense of freedom lifts you up and carries you along with it. As the synthesizers shimmer and the drums pound, Granduciel throws in those perfect little guitar runs that make you want to let go and follow wherever the song leads you to.

I can’t tell you exactly what he’s singing, or even singing about. But all those feelings that are wrapped up in the music continue to lift me up even after 12 months of listening to it.

I was not a big fan of the official video for the song. But I loved this fan video, which to me captured that primal feeling of escape that is the song’s core.

Bonus points: My favorite musical moment of the year, Granduciel’s “WHOO!” that sends the song into overdrive as the chorus, as much as there is one, begins.

Baby don’t mind
Leave it on a lie, you can have it your way


20 – “Black And White” – Parquet Courts
19 – “I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up)” – School Of Seven Bells
18 – “We Only Come Out At Night” – Sugar Stems
17 – “Too True To Be Good” – Dum Dum Girls
16 – “Milwaukee” – The Both
15 – “New Skin” – Torres
14 – “Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
13 – “Fall In Love” – Phantogram
12 – “Spinners” – The Hold Steady
11 – “Rent I Pay” – Spoon
10 – “Teenage Wasteland” – Wussy
9 – “Goshen ’97” – Strand Of Oaks
8 – “Lazaretto” – Jack White
7 – “Honey Do” – Beverly
6 – “Head Underwater” – Jenny Lewis
5 – “Run Forever” Emma Ruth Rundle
4 – “Lights Out” – Angel Olsen
3 – “Gimme Something Good” – Ryan Adams
2 – “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” – Against Me!

  1. Granduciel rather cheekily only provided lyrics to part of the song in the liner notes, and some clearly changed between recording and writing them down.  ↩