Album Review: The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

the war on drugsThe War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

Americana | Indie Rock

76%

When The War On Drugs released Lost in the Dream back in 2014, it blindsided a lot of critics. Here was a relatively obscure band emerging out of the woodwork to produce one of the most acclaimed and beloved albums of the decade thus far. Following an album like that is not an enviable task, and while A Deeper Understanding is a great record and makes for a damn good roadtrip soundtrack, it naturally falls short of matching its predecessor. With the newfound pressure of both media scrutiny and a new major label deal, the album feels forced. It has all the hallmarks of their trademark sound, but it’s very much a paint by numbers affair. The magic is missing somehow.

A big part of the problem is that there are no real standout tracks. The record flows so well to the point that it starts to sound repetitive, whereas Lost in the Dream was hit after hit that all linked together as part of something greater. If pushed for favourites I’d say the guitar work on ‘Strangest Thing’ is some of the finest on the album, the bright synths and harmonica on ‘Nothing To Find’ make it the most engaging track, and the atmospheric brass and piano driven intro of ‘In Chains’ is simply beautiful. Even these highlights though don’t come close to matching the last album. This is a great record, make no mistakes, but given that so few bands ever make a classic album you can’t really hold it against Adam Granduciel that he didn’t manage to make another in quick succession. Perhaps there may be another classic on the cards one day, but it happens when it happens, you can’t force lightning to strike twice.

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