Adam Granduciel is a musical genius, and his abilities are shown off on The War on Drugs’ new album, A Deeper Understanding.
Adam Granduciel’s music is known for honing in on detail. The lead singer and producer for The War on Drugs has continuously graced listeners with music that’s filled with stellar instrumentation and mixing. He’s a true man of music. With A Deeper Understanding, Granduciel has followed up 2014 breakthrough Lost in the Dream with a complex introspective masterpiece, hence the name, A Deeper Understanding.
A Deeper Understanding is an atmospheric collection of jam packed detail existing as a soundscape for people. He plays a dozen instruments throughout this album, yeah, a dozen. Not including his producing and writing credits. Adam acted as a perfectionist on this new record, and it worked. The album’s sound twinkles because there’s not a moment in it that leaves you without a sound. The use of synths and piano act as the album’s pulse throughout. At points they even help allow other instruments such as the harmonica to glow.
Grandcuiel uses his delicate rasp as something to accompany his instrumentation, rather than dominate it. His lyrics contain themes of introspection and loss, essentially the opposite subjects of what Lost in the Dream had. “Am I just living in this space between the beauty and the pain?” He sings on the melancholic and nostalgic “Strangest Thing.”
It took 3 years to follow up Lost in the Dream, and you can see why when listening through. Adam layered the album’s sound with precision. Every little synth, lyric, & note seems to be carefully strategized and placed. You dive in curious and come out refreshed after listening to this record. Not a feeling you generally get when listening to a full length album.
The album runs 10 tracks long, but contains 66 minutes of run time. The shortest song on this album is 4 minutes flat, a rarity in any kind of music today, especially rock. Collectively, it sounds like a mind boggling journey. The 11 minute “Thinking of a Place” starts off with misty synths, followed by a reviving guitar and drums combo before Grandcuiel chimes in with his comforting vocals. The songs on this record seemingly flow into each other, making the album cohesive and hermetic. A Deeper Understanding was an outlet for Granduciel to get lost in his own creative process, and listeners get lost in the final product. “Knocked Down” contains raw emotion from both the instruments, as well as his voice.
He documents his creative process subtly on A Deeper Understanding with the album cover. Adam is simply pictured sitting by an organ in an eerily lit studio room with various other instruments & equipment. The unamused stare on his face points to him being in the midst of the process. It represents the album’s mood and detail. It’s the perfect visual accompaniment for this record.
Granduciel historically has had a classic rock influence on his music. You can draw immediate comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan on the vocals side. The guitars are sporadic and slashing, standing out on songs like “Clean Living,” and “Strangest Thing.” The influence of 80s dad rock is evident.
Listening to this album is not simply an imaginative journey, but an experience. Music is Adam’s way of understanding the world, and he deserves tons of credit for putting together this utter masterpiece. This record is without a doubt unconventional, but is definitely a necessity in the music world today. Not many artists have the control that Granduciel has with his music. His abilities ultimately speak for themselves on A Deeper Understanding.
Favorite tracks: Strangest Thing, In Chains, Thinking of a Place
You can stream the new War on Drugs album A Deeper Understanding above.