The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding (2017 US/CA)



by SQ:  100%  Pressing:  80%  Overall:  90% 

The War On Drugs gave us a taste of their fourth album, A Deeper Understanding with the release of Thinking Of A Place single and created a buzz on Record Store Day 2017. I have heard nothing but great praise for the sound quality of the 45 rpm single. To our surprise, they have changed record label to Atlantic for the better. Bye bye, Secretly Canadian!

Not a fan of singles, I decided to wait for the release of the full-length album. Nearly five long months of waiting and it has been worth it!

Putting on A Deeper Understanding is such a treat! This release is indeed music to my ears. You can just tell a lot of effort has been put in the production of this recording to make sure that it sounds good. Sorry, not just good. It sounds superb, it sounds better than the excellent Lost In The Dream from 2014!

Great recording let us get into its music immediately and that’s what happened with A Deeper Understanding. Ryan Smith‘s masterful cut is airy, spacious, deep, dynamic and involving. The music just draws the listeners in, surround them with echoey reverbs and transport them into a hypnotic and atmospheric dreamlike world.

Usually, a UK or EU release would be my first pick. However, I have trusted the unreliable Discogs as I checked both the matrix info of the US and EU releases on their listings. The US release is listed with MPO suffix only. Hence I put in the order of A Deeper Understanding along with a few other US releases and ordered them from, thinking that both US and UK/EU pressings must have been pressed by MPO.

This copy I received have both MPO and GZ Media’s suffixes on its dead wax, so I presumed this US release was pressed by GZ Media rather than MPO. If you own a copy of the EU pressing, please let me know if you also see both the MPO and GZ Media’s suffixes.

Unfortunately, disc one of my copy was quite wavy and needed to be flattened but nothing a Vinyl Flat can’t fix. Disc two was also warped but only mild, I could have just left it but since I have my Vinyl Flat out…

Side C with contains one of the highlights, the eleven minutes Thinking Of A Place, however, has a soundstage that is slightly off-center… If you have a balance control on your preamp, a small turn would fix it. The other three sides are perfect. Both records played dead quiet without a tick.

Now I am curious if the EU pressing sounds better than this, perhaps it is better pressed…