The War On Drugs’ last album, 2014’s Lost in the Dream, expanded their already widescreen sound to truly panoramic proportions, prompting comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and other heartland rock stalwarts of yore. But the band fused those references with its own sound, and that is the reason for its continued success.
A Deeper Understanding could be considered Part 2 of Lost in the Dream, because sonically it adheres to the trails blazed by its predecessor. But it’s still a very good album that, once again, showcases songwriter Adam Granduciel’s studio perfectionism. This time around, there’s a little more grit to the sound, a bit of compressed harshness, that alters the feel of the album a bit, and that hasn’t entirely grown on me.
But it would be a mistake to get hung up on the production; it’s the songs and the performances here that deserve the praise: huge, expressive statements with melancholy guitar solos, driving drums, lively basslines, and lyrics of struggle sung with real conviction.
As the band’s set at Coachella last weekend demonstrated, the songs only improve in a live setting, and if you get the chance to see this band on tour, don’t pass it up.