The War on Drugs ‘A Deeper Understanding’

The War On Drugs further cement their place as one of today's best bands with their most cohesive work yet
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Adam Granduciel, the mastermind behind indie rock band The War on Drugs, probably gets too much credit. Like most bands who have a “figurehead,” it’s too easy to overlook the fact that it’s not just one guy. Perhaps this is why the group decided to make their newest album more of a ‘band record.” While hindsight is always 20/20, it’s a good thing they did. ‘A Deeper Understanding’ is a sprawling, expansive rock record that further cements TWOD’s place as one of today’s best artists of the genre.

The title of the record is a good phrase for the band’s music as a whole. Throughout their catalog, Granduciel searches for answers that seem just beyond his reach. Songs often then unfurl into musical outbursts that accentuate his affliction yet have the feel of the next solo you’ll air guitar in the shower. While this new record may lack some of the signature moments of TWOD’s career (the guitar-spattered highs of ‘Red Eyes and Ocean In Between The Waves for example), the record succeeds because of its pacing and consistency. It’s truly an ‘album’s album,’ meant to be played all at once; an unusual-yet-fitting adulation considering the record is just over an hour long.

While Granduciel may be overcredited to a degree, his production and knack for crafting a song is worthy of praise. ‘A Deeper Understanding’ features the same heartland rock meets synth-soaked warmness sound the band is known for, but perfectly mixed. The psychedelic guitars combined with the peppy drums on ‘In Chains’ and ‘Pain’ are just a few standouts. ‘Knocked Down’ is a slower track that has the band expertly bringing out the pain in Granduciel’s voice with their instruments. However the crown jewel of this record is without a doubt ‘Strangest Thing,’ a track that immediately has become one of the band’s best tracks. Starting off slow, Granduciel begins to describe his struggle with familiarity. “I recognize every face/But I ain’t got everything I need,” he whispers. The emotion in his voice is easy to hear, and the ensuing anthemic solo that takes up nearly half the song is the type of psychedelic-tinged arena rock reminiscent of acts like Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart that’s lacking in the genre nowadays. It’ll surely become a staple at every TWOD show moving forward.

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Any artist will tell you that it’s hard to follow up a classic. 2014’s ‘Lost In The Dream’ was one of the best albums of the year and cemented TWOD’s place as one of today’s best rock groups. The expectations were understandably high and the pressure was on Granduciel and company to create an LP worthy of sitting next to ‘LOTD.’ Not only have they succeeded, they have crafted an album just as fantastic while coming up with newer, fresher compositions. It looks like The War On Drugs will once again compete for album of the year.

A Deeper Understanding is available now via Atlantic Records. The full track listing for the album is as follows…

01. Up All Night
02. Pain
03. Holding On
04. Strangest Thing
05. Knocked Down
06. Nothing To Find
07. Thinking of a Place
08. In Chains
09. Clean Living
10. You Don’t Have To Go