Final rating: 9/10
Indie Rock band The War on Drugs have just released their fourth, and possibly best album yet, “A Deeper Understanding”. Their previous album “Lost In The Dream” was a hit, resulting in the idea that this next album could go really down hill, or really up hill. The last one was just so good that I wasn’t sure they could top it but in my opinion, did they ever.
The album contains themes of love, confusion, the deep depths of a relationship that everyone feels but cannot put into words, and that is what makes this album so beautiful. Lyrics are genuinely honest and so well written. There is nothing I love more than an album that doesn’t beat around the bushes with its lyrics- I want to see truth.
“Up All Night” is a powerful star with an emotional piano melody that sticks with you and takes you on a journey throughout this song about not being able to shake off feelings for someone. It picks up with an 80’s style synth sounding similar to percussion, and ends off with a guitar solo (as expected by them). This guitar solo is different though- this song is wonderful but it stays pretty moderate. His tone of voice doesn’t change, and instrumentals remain consistent for the most part- but lyrics are powerful. The ending of this song is like a release of all the emotion in those lyrics and instrumentals- absolutely stunning.
“Pain” slows things down a bit, with even more powerful lyrics. Its about how its better to feel pain than to feel numb, even without love. The chorus is very similar to how a poem would be wrote, “Pain, without love; Pain, I can’t get enough;
Pain, I like it rough; ‘Cause I’d like to feel pain than nothing”. Instrumentals remain pretty soft, but it goes hand in hand with the vibe in this tune.
Many compare The War on Drugs to Bruce Springsteen, but this album probably touches closer to Springsteen than any other album mainly because of the use of key’s and the stylization of guitar, especially in “Holding On”. In terms of vocals, there is more of a comparison to Bob Dylan with the way he takes short and abrupt pauses in between verses, as well as the slight dryness/rasp in his voice. And in terms of the lyrics, they are so special and intricate, comparable to those artists as well.
“Strangest Thing” may just be one of the most powerful tracks on the album. The slow and soft strumming makes a statement right off of the bat, and the electric guitar at about 2:40 is mind blowing- its just a big explosion of emotion and this track probably hit me the hardest out of the whole album. “If I’m just living in the space between the beauty and the pain, it’s the strangest thing”.
Most are already familiar with “Thinking Of A Place”, but this is another point of the album filled with an abundance of strength. It begins quietly with synth, and then into another heart wrenching piano that sucks you into a nostalgic and atmospheric song filled with detail; “I’m moving through the dark; Of a long black night; Just moving with the moon; And the light it shines; And I’m thinking of a place; And it feels so very real; Just moving through the dark”; “Lead me through the night; Pull me from the water; Hold my hand as something turns to me; Turns me into you.” The eleven minute track also contains another hauntingly beautiful and emotional melody- get ready to cry. It then leads into “In Chains” which is essentially a continuation with the same melody but more up-beat, but I wish it wasn’t a different song. It should have just been a continuation, which would have made the song over 20 minutes but I think it would have made it that more epic. I understand it is a continuation but all may not understand that and just think that it sounds similar to the last.
The album closes out perfectly with “You Don’t Have To Go”, a deep ending with an uplifting guitar and a bit of flute adding the perfect touch- another favourite of mine. I have to say this is their best album yet- it’s consistent. It’s definitely a love story, a rollercoaster, told in depth. Again, this is describing things that we all feel and cannot put into words. It contains some of the most beautiful melodies and lyrics I have heard, and its definitely their best album yet because of the consistency and deepness.