Right, hear me out. The War On Drugs are a decent band and Adam Granduciel and has put together some very good songs. But when you put ten of them side by side, I lose the will to live. And don’t get me wrong, right? I’m all for a bit of reverb. But when I’m exposed to it for over an hour I start to feel a little nauseous. As though every sound I might ever hear for the rest of my life will have just a wee bit of reverb on it. I imagine the final lines of conversations with checkout staff recurring for a few extra milliseconds; people’s sneezes reverberating like they’re headlining Wembley.
But the biggest problem with ‘A Deeper Understanding’ isn’t how over-long it is – it’s the sheer inevitability of it all. ‘Strangest Thing’, for example, is a microcosm of Granduciel’s technique. It meanders along for three whole minutes and yet you just know it’s going to explode; an obelisk of guitar solos stretching valiantly towards the sky. It sounds emotional but on this fourth album it just feels hollow. This is exactly the kind of thing that led to punk. Can someone please provide the antidote?