With A Deeper Understanding, everything is okay
He’s the title character. He’s not happy. He’s spent so much time feeling unloved, unsupported, unsure. Eager for an escape, he puts on the album that his taste-maker friend recommended. And now, while he still may not have all the answers, he has found what he needs. Help. Company. Assurance.
“Up All Night” has a fascinating helicopter-sounding effect to back up the chords of the song and a beautiful blanket of sound that immerses and envelopes listeners in an aquarium of comfort and warmth.
“Pain” spills of the difficulties of being lost and hurt, trying to save yourself but feeling like nothing is working
The interplay between the guitar and the vocals on “Holding On,” specifically, the figure where the two play together in the latter half of the song is the standout feature of this tune, but it does mighty fine on its own and it fits in oh so very well with the previous two tracks and the album as a whole.
“Strangest Thing” discusses the feeling of alienation, in oneself and in others, and it’s carried by a simple yet effective synth/guitar riff throughout, only to end an uncertain string note, hinting at a persisting melancholy.
But the opening of the following track, “Knocked Down” is an excellent segue to the most unique song so far on the album, one that features a few bars in 3/4 time signature. This one might be the saddest song so far as well, especially with the chorus lyrics of “I wanna help you but I get knocked down.” Sometimes it’s hard to help those who need it, and damn if that isn’t a terrible feeling.
One of many instances of The War on Drugs showing their prowess in communicating honest, difficult emotions. What follows is the happiest song from the album, “Nothing to Find,” a tune that has an “I know you did something wrong” kind of vibe to it and, like every song of the ten, great instrumentals in both solos and throughout. This one is more forward looking than the others not solely due to its positivity but also through the drive it has; if the others songs are people with resting bitch face, “Nothing to Find” has a resting smile.
“Thinking of a Place,” the eleven-minute number is beautiful and quite descriptive, but there’s unfortunately not too much to say other than “it’s good.” The War on Drugs gets a little more romantic with “In Chains” (at least it certainly sounds more romantic), rural with “Clean Living,” and country with “You Don’t Have to Go.”
It’s difficult to think critically about this album due to its consistency of sound, song construction, solos and overall quality. Does this make the ending weaker? Yes, because if something is evenly good from start to finish, the finale will seem less grand since our interest hasn’t skyrocketed. But that may be the only “bad” mark against this excellent album, an album that will help the mentally plagued, comfort the teary-eyed, and entertain the masses.