Album of the Week: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs

Bands that ride a sonic wave always provide a blissful listening experience. Sometimes they sound atmospheric and perhaps even a bit spaced out. Other times they create stellar progressions while basing off classic rock riffs. Philadelphia act The War on Drugs does a little bit of both with their fourth album A Deeper Understanding that was released Aug 25 by Atlantic Records. The album is adorned with face-melting solos and rhythms that are tight as a knot. It’s a blending of Tom Petty-esque Americana rock with reverb and distortion reminiscent of U2’s glory days in the ‘80s.

As with each album from The War on Drugs, frontman and principal songwriter Adam Granduciel also handled the production duties on A Deeper Understanding. What makes this record special is Granduciel’s poetic lyrics that strike a nerve. Each song is poignant and profound. The musical structure strives for perfection and comes awfully close. It’s a fantastic way for a band to unveil their major label debut.

There’s definitely a fine line between music that has a lot incorporated into it and music that’s just pretentious. Where is the line drawn? It most likely all comes down to taste, and probably comes down to the feeling the listener gets after pressing play as well. The War on Drugs resonate a driving vibe that’s bound to invigorate the senses. Let’s see how that all plays out and more with my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:


There’s nothing boring about “Holding On” – the rhythms are at a fever pitch while Granduciel sings introspectively about relationships and longing. “Nothing to Find” is an excellent example the sonic wave mentioned earlier; synth shines from beginning to end to add a dimension that completes the song. It’s a bit more laid-back than the others but “Thinking of a Place” has a killer guitar solo that makes a huge presence.

New England live music fanatics have two chances to see The War on Drugs. They’ll be at the State Theatre in Portland on Sep 18 and then they’ll be at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston on Sep 23. It’ll surely be an awesome experience to see Granduciel and the band live. While you’re at either show, grab a copy of the new album. It’ll take your taste to new heights while staying down to Earth.

Check out the music video for “Holding On”:

Stream A Deeper Understanding via Spotify:

The War on Drugs web site: