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The War On Drugs|A Deeper Understanding

A Deeper Understanding

The War On Drugs

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The War on Drugs' debut for Atlantic Records, A Deeper Understanding, is very much a follow-up to the group's critically acclaimed Top 30 breakthrough Lost in the Dream from three years prior. That album's notoriously meticulous blend of heartland rock influences, Bob Dylan, and a swirling dream rock constructed of Wurlitzers, tape effects, analog synths, and 12-string guitar, just to name a few components, is, if anything, even more expansive here. The Drugs recorded it as a six-piece with frontman/songwriter Adam Granduciel, bassist Dave Hartley, who's been in the picture since the band’s debut, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall, and multi-instrumentalists Jon Natchez and Anthony LaMarca, all but the latter of whom contributed to Lost in the Dream. There's no compromising to be found on their major-label debut, the first of a two-record deal that promises complete creative control to Granduciel. (To underscore that point, the first track released from A Deeper Understanding was the over-11-minute "Thinking of a Place.") The set's ten tracks drift unhurriedly over a course of more than an hour. Included along the way are a few additional timbres, such as the skittering electronic effects and stucco guitar textures of opener "Up All Night," the unexpected glint of glockenspiel on the bass-propelled tune "Holding On," and the saxophone on "Clean Living" with its sound distorted like a reflection. At first, these details hint at a possible redesign -- then just as quickly they don’t, as ears adjust to the broader palette. They weave their way into the hazy reverb, restrained pitch range, and shimmering, engulfing atmosphere that manages to never overpower Granduciel's gentle ruminations on relationships, overcoming, and just coping. Though there's nothing here to grab headlines, A Deeper Understanding reclaims and explores the distinctive soundscapes, vastness, and haunted psyche of Lost in the Dream, and that in itself is significant.

© Marcy Donelson /TiVo

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A Deeper Understanding

The War On Drugs

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1
Up All Night
00:06:23

Charlie Hall, Drums, Percussion - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Michael Johnson, Synthesizer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Jon Natchez, Baritone Saxophone - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Audio Recording Engineer, Mellotron, Samples - Robbie Bennett, Synthesizer - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

2
Pain
00:05:30

Charlie Hall, Drums, Percussion - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Bass Guitar - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Jon Natchez, Baritone Saxophone - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Jess Wolfe, Backing Vocals - Holly Laessig, Backing Vocals - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, Additional Recording - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Organ, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Lead Guitar, Synthesizer, Audio Recording Engineer, Vibes, Celeste Keyboards - Anthony LaMarca, Electric Guitar - Robbie Bennett, Bass Guitar, Piano - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

3
Holding On
00:05:50

Max Hart, Keyboards, Synthesizer - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Glockenspiel, Bass Guitar - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Patrick Berkery, Drums, Percussion - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, Additional Recording - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Michael Bloch, Electric Guitar - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Audio Recording Engineer - Anthony LaMarca, Slide Guitar - Robbie Bennett, Piano, Writer, Celeste Keyboards - Meg Duffy, Slide Guitar - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

4
Strangest Thing
00:06:41

Darren Jessee, Drums, Percussion - Charlie Hall, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Piano, Writer, Synthesizer, Harmonica, Audio Recording Engineer - Anthony LaMarca, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals - Robbie Bennett, Piano, Backing Vocals - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

5
Knocked Down
00:03:59

Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Fretless Bass - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Carter Tanton, Acoustic Guitar - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Electric Guitar, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Audio Recording Engineer, Mellotron, Vibes, Wurlitzer - Anthony LaMarca, Drums - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

6
Nothing to Find
00:06:10

Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Bass Guitar - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Michael Bloch, Electric Guitar - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Hammond Organ, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Audio Recording Engineer - Sterling Laws, Drums, Percussion - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

7
Thinking of a Place
00:11:10

Max Hart, Pedal Steel Guitar - Charlie Hall, Drums, Percussion - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Fretless Bass - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Michael Bloch, Rhythm Guitar - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Organ, Vocals, Writer, Additional Recording, Harmonica, Vibes, Wurlitzer, Celeste Keyboards, Juno Synthesizer - Anthony LaMarca, Acoustic Guitar - Paloma Gil, Backing Vocals - Robbie Bennett, Percussion, Fender Rhodes Keyboards, Synthesizer - Louise Hayat, Backing Vocals - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

8
In Chains
00:07:20

Charlie Hall, Drums, Vibes - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Bass Guitar - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Jon Natchez, Baritone Saxophone - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Patrick Berkery, Percussion - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Harmonica, Audio Recording Engineer - Anthony LaMarca, Electric Guitar - Robbie Bennett, Piano - Josh Kauffman, Electric Guitar, Voice - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

9
Clean Living
00:06:28

Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Bass Guitar - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Jon Natchez, Baritone Saxophone - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Patrick Berkery, Drums, Percussion - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Parker Kindred, Percussion - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Michael Bloch, Electric Guitar - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Organ, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Harmonica, Audio Recording Engineer - Anthony LaMarca, Electric Guitar - Robbie Bennett, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes Keyboards - Meg Duffy, Slide Guitar - Josh Kauffman, Percussion - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

10
You Don't Have to Go
00:06:42

Charlie Hall, Percussion - Greg Calbi, MasteringEngineer - Michael Johnson, Synthesizer - Wesley Seidman, Engineer - Dave Hartley, Fretless Bass - The War On Drugs, MainArtist - Jon Natchez, Baritone Saxophone - Shawn Everett, Audio Recording Engineer, MixingEngineer - Nick Krill, AdditionalEngineer - Jon Ashley, Engineer - David Davis, Engineer - Otto Hauser, Drums, Percussion - Nicholas Vernhes, AdditionalEngineer - Daniel Schlett, AdditionalEngineer - Jeff Zeigler, AdditionalEngineer - Gabe Wax, Engineer, AdditionalEngineer - Gosha Usov, Engineer - Tyler Shields, Engineer - Will Delaney, Engineer - Clay Blair, Engineer - Omar Yakar, Engineer - Adam Granduciel, Producer, Electric Guitar, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, Harmonica, Audio Recording Engineer, Wurlitzer, Acoustic Rhythm Guitar - Paloma Gil, Backing Vocals - Robbie Bennett, Organ, Piano - Louise Hayat, Backing Vocals - Josh Kauffman, Electric Guitar - Austin Asvanonda, Engineer - Carter Jahn, Engineer - Garret De Block, Engineer - Ivan Wayman, Engineer

© 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 2017 Atlantic Recording Corporation

Album review

The War on Drugs' debut for Atlantic Records, A Deeper Understanding, is very much a follow-up to the group's critically acclaimed Top 30 breakthrough Lost in the Dream from three years prior. That album's notoriously meticulous blend of heartland rock influences, Bob Dylan, and a swirling dream rock constructed of Wurlitzers, tape effects, analog synths, and 12-string guitar, just to name a few components, is, if anything, even more expansive here. The Drugs recorded it as a six-piece with frontman/songwriter Adam Granduciel, bassist Dave Hartley, who's been in the picture since the band’s debut, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall, and multi-instrumentalists Jon Natchez and Anthony LaMarca, all but the latter of whom contributed to Lost in the Dream. There's no compromising to be found on their major-label debut, the first of a two-record deal that promises complete creative control to Granduciel. (To underscore that point, the first track released from A Deeper Understanding was the over-11-minute "Thinking of a Place.") The set's ten tracks drift unhurriedly over a course of more than an hour. Included along the way are a few additional timbres, such as the skittering electronic effects and stucco guitar textures of opener "Up All Night," the unexpected glint of glockenspiel on the bass-propelled tune "Holding On," and the saxophone on "Clean Living" with its sound distorted like a reflection. At first, these details hint at a possible redesign -- then just as quickly they don’t, as ears adjust to the broader palette. They weave their way into the hazy reverb, restrained pitch range, and shimmering, engulfing atmosphere that manages to never overpower Granduciel's gentle ruminations on relationships, overcoming, and just coping. Though there's nothing here to grab headlines, A Deeper Understanding reclaims and explores the distinctive soundscapes, vastness, and haunted psyche of Lost in the Dream, and that in itself is significant.

© Marcy Donelson /TiVo

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