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 Atlantic5 min read
Airbnb And The Unintended Consequences Of 'Disruption'
Tech analysts are prone to predicting utopia or dystopia. They’re worse at imagining the side effects of a firm's success.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
The Swiss Have Liberal Gun Laws, Too
In February 2011, Swiss citizens voted in a referendum that called for a national gun registry and for firearms owned by members of the military to be stored in public arsenals. “It is a question of trust between the state and the citizen. The citize
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
The Mystery Behind Frederick Douglass's Birthday
Two hundred years ago, one of the 19th century’s most significant Americans began his life in anonymity and bondage.