Impossible to categorize, The War on Drugs have carved out a niche as rock’s alchemists drawing effortlessly on Springsteen and Dylan on one hand and Sonic Young and My Bloody Valentine on the other. Do we have an Alternative Heartland Rock genre, yet?
The Philadelphia band’s latest LP, A Deeper Understanding, is not the most indispensable in their catalog, but it’s certainly a enjoyable listen that highlights the band’s capable songwriting and musicianship.
The inventive guitar-scapes that have been a signature of The War on Drugs sound are more subdued here, but nevertheless bring textural interest to songs like “Strangest Thing” and “Thinking of a Place”. Adam Granduciel’s vocals produce a wide range of effective emotions, but his lyricism sometimes doesn’t match up to the lofty influences (Bob Dylan, Neil Young) suggested by his delivery.
However, A Deeper Understanding is ultimately a profoundly enjoyable experience. It feels less pioneering and daring than previous The War on Drugs releases, so no wonder this is the one that got nominated for a Grammy!