Album of the Week: The War On Drugs, 'A Deeper Understanding'


The War On Drugs, 'A Deeper Understanding'
The War On Drugs, 'A Deeper Understanding' (Courtesy of Atlantic Records)
Bill DeVille - Album of the Week: The War On Drugs, 'A Deeper Understanding'
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The War on Drugs have been underdogs since Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile formed the band a little more than a decade ago in Philadelphia. "Underdog" was even more the case after Vile left in 2008 to embark on a solo career. Granduciel has carried on with kind of an "us against the world" mentality. It's worked!

The War on Drugs really hit the stratosphere with their last album, Lost In The Dream, released on the independent Secretly Canadian label. Nobody really saw it coming, except maybe Granduciel, who exudes a kind of quiet confidence. The band have shown steady growth in the 10 years they've been around. They are now a big enough band to play The Palace Theatre here in St. Paul on Oct. 18.

A Deeper Understanding is The War on Drugs' first album on the major label Atlantic Records. They've upped their game accordingly. It sounds as though they spent more time and money on this one. It has a big and lush sound that's stadium and radio ready, never mind that the average length of their songs is over six minutes! One of the highlights, "Thinking of A Place," clocks in at more than 11 minutes. This majestic and stunningly beautiful epic sends chills. You don't want it to ever end!

There are a handful of songs on A Deeper Understanding you don't want to end at all. The album's first track, "Up All Night," hints at a new sound with a dreamy, almost danceable beat. It's more electronic than their previous work, delivered in an almost a Giorgio Moroder '70s style. It makes you want to shed your headphones and move your feet. This one is almost LCD Soundsystem territory.

By the next track, "Pain," you might put the headphones back on! It's a gorgeous mid-tempo tune, with plenty of that signature majestic guitar interweavings you expect from The War on Drugs, plus it features an almost Fleetwood Mac-styled groove.

There are always plenty of classic rock influences with The War On Drugs. You hear a bit of Springsteen on the album's catchy first single, "Holding On," which has already joined the Hall of Fame on Mark Wheat's Chart Show.

The War on Drugs were founded over a mutual love of Bob Dylan. That love is evident both lyrically and vocally on "Strangest Thing," as you feel Granduciel's aching vocal: "I ain't got everything I need/If I'm just living in the space between the beauty and the pain."

Rock and roll has been around for 60 some years, and the War on Drugs still manage to sound pretty fresh. As we click into autumn mode soon, this might be the album to put on and get lost in its epic beauty.


The War On Drugs - Official Site

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  • The War on Drugs perform live in The Current studio Between their two-night stand in the First Avenue mainroom, the War on Drugs stopped by Minnesota Public Radio to chat with Jill Riley of the Morning Show and to perform tracks live in The Current's studio, including songs off their latest album, <em>Lost in the Dream</em>, and a fantastic Bob Dylan cover.

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