The War On Drugs’ music sets a certain mood very well. I liken it to the feeling I got when I first heard Radiohead; it’s a calming, peaceful feeling that induces bouts of melancholy. I’m not comparing The War On Drugs to Radiohead in any way, all that I’m saying is that I feel the same sort of self-reflecting existential dread when either band is playing. It’s a strange feeling, very unique to certain experiences. It’s heavy, it’s sad, it’s happy, and most of all it’s beautiful.
The War On Drugs’ previous two releases, Slave Ambient and Lost In The Dream are great, and I have spent a fair amount of time with both of them. It seems as though Adam Granduciel is a very meticulous person, at least with his art, and with this latest release he has compounded, concentrated, and improved upon everything he’s previously done, amounting to something truly epic. If he was an artificial intelligence program, before now he was an extremely efficient one that got the job done just about perfectly, as he was programmed to do. On A Deeper Understanding, he became self-aware, which allowed him to make the necessary adjustments to not only produce something as great as he is capable of once more, but to improve upon it in a way that was previously thought to be unattainable. It’s a culmination of his lifetime experience as a musician that has been arranged and sequenced into a sprawling and absolutely gorgeous journey.
Take, for example, the slightly off-center highlight of the album, “Thinking of a Place”. It was the first single released back in April of this year, and has been an unavoidable entity in my life since. It’s eleven minutes long, and so in the traditional sense of a “single” it makes the least sense out of any song on the album, but it exists as a microcosm of the calculated wandering and transcendent perfection achieved on the album as a whole.
By stepping outside of his own box he was able to view everything from a new vantage point, shore up the weaknesses, and improve on the already unique and enthralling strengths. It’s a great leap forward, which makes me wonder about where he can go from here. I’m looking forward to bearing witness.
A Deeper Understanding is out everywhere 08.25.17.