The War On Drugs – ‘A Deeper Understanding’ Review

Tune in and spin out, brothers and sisters

Imagine, somewhere on the LA airwaves, there’s a station that you can only pick up from a convertible radio after midnight. Its skunk-blasted DJs play nothing but the distant, hazy sound of ’80s soft rock – Bryan Adams, Foreigner, Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’, Eric Carmen’s ‘Hungry Eyes’ – merged together into an endless narcotic drawl of slick nightrider riffs and husky vocals that sound like Bruce Hornsby flicking a mullet over the raised collar of a red leather jacket.

This, essentially, is where the music of The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel lives, and lovers of the plush paranoia of 2014’s breakthrough album ‘Lost In The Dream’ will be relieved that his fourth outing doesn’t touch that dial. From the opening highway piano judder of ‘Up All Night’ it’s like losing yourself once more in some lost golden age of MOR.

But Granduciel is a reinventor rather than a recreator – his vision of ’80s pop-rock is warped through the prism of second-wave shoegaze. These songs revel in their spaciousness, like three- minute drivetime anthems from 1986 set free from their radio edits to muck around with 2017’s oddest noises for seven minutes at a time. Granduciel’s music is such a sumptuous wallow we don’t mind moving forward by the inch.

This is the only War On Drugs that should continue, because it’s working. Tune in.

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