The Atlantic

The Classic-Rock Ecstasy of The War on Drugs

The band’s fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, offers a powerful and steady high.
Source: Shawn Brackbill / Atlantic Records

The War on Drugs has one of those band names that isn’t supposed to mean anything. But listen to the Philadelphia band’s wonderful fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, and, you may, in fact, think about drugs—and more specifically, clichés surrounding drugs and rock-and-roll history.

Bandleader Adam Granduciel is a student of that history, and his music often poses questions few rock fans may have thought to ask. Like, “What if Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’ was 10 minutes long?” or “Why can’t we live inside the fourth minute of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Jungleland’ forever?” But he taps theabound, but the twitchy bravado or desperate intensity that critics might have described as “coked out” doesn’t. Rather, these songs pulse steadily and patiently, doling out climaxes of euphoria at carefully considered intervals. With apologies for using one of the iffiest tropes of record reviewing: This is classic rock on MDMA.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readSociety
The Immigrants Fueling the Gig Economy
Editor’s Note: This article is the third in a series about how the gig economy is shaping the future of labor and what that means for workers. Sakhr Sharafadin was making $8 an hour in the kitchen at a Little Caesars, during his senior year of high
The Atlantic4 min readPop Culture
What Incredibles 2 Says About Hero Worship
Brad Bird’s sequel to his 2004 classic is a pointed response to the increasing ubiquity of comic-book movies.
The Atlantic18 min readPolitics
How the Carmakers Trumped Themselves
These are strange times for America’s car industry. This month, the White House will decide the fate of a set of federal rules called the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, or CAFE standards. These laws regulate the miles-per-gallon number of