The War on Drugs’ “Under the Pressure” is one of those songs that sounds best during a late night drive. Its warm and layered texture captures the heat of a late summer evening when the humid night air is actually worse than the day’s hot sun.
At the heart of the song is a hypnotic piano chord that repeats throughout the song. It’s the anchor of the song, but it’s not the driving force. There’s enough space between the repeating notes for the drums and bass to weave their way through. Over this, lead singer Adam Granduciel gives a vocal performance that is reminiscent of Bob Dylan circa Infidels ala “Jokerman”. Listen to the way he twists his voice the word “wasted” around when he sings, “but a dream like this gets wasted with you.”
To me “Under the Pressure” sounds like what would come if you mixed Dire Straits and Dylan up in a blender. If that’s the sound that Granduciel was going for, I’m almost certain that the Dylan-esque voice wasn’t coincidental. After all, Mark Knopfler was the producer of Infidels which included “Jokerman”.