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The War on Drugs’ new LP contains some of the band’s best songs yet

Written By Mick Stinelli, Co-Arts and Entertainment Editor

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After 2014’s triumphant “Lost in the Dream,” Adam Granduciel’s The War on Drugs has returned with their latest LP, “A Deeper Understanding.” This album hits upon familiar War on Drugs touchstones: their signature Springsteen-with-reverb approach to songwriting, passages of ambience and Granduciel’s impassioned lyrics.

“A Deeper Understanding” doesn’t necessarily break new ground for the band, but it contains some of their best songs yet. The ten tracks on the record wrap up nicely at a little over an hour, with centerpiece “Thinking of a Place” clocking in at 11 minutes and 11 seconds. The album’s first three songs have a propulsive energy to them, with lead single “Holding On” providing a boost of energy before the downtempo “Strangest Thing.”

Granduciel’s melodies are stronger than ever, pushing and pulling the listener between trepidation and triumph. Songs like “Knocked Down” burn slowly beneath the surface before launching into the pulsating “Nothing to Find.” Tracks begin with a whisper before reaching a climax filled with searing guitars and glossy synthesizers. The War on Drugs do a wonderful job of taking the heartland rock sound and fusing it with bedroom pop-style production.

Some listeners may be disappointed that the band’s sonics seem completely unchanged since “Lost in the Dream.” Indeed, even Granduciel’s lyrics deal with similar themes that he has always written about: pain, misery and introspection. However, the album’s excellent pacing and fantastic sound design make for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Few bands are as consistently excellent as The War on Drugs, with “A Deeper Understanding” being the culmination of several great albums before it.

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