The Struggle On Medication’ largest album thrives on its smallest particulars

Photograph: Jack Hedges

Over the past three years, The Struggle On Medication turned one among our largest rock ’n’ roll bands—largely whereas no person was trying. On 2014’s Misplaced In The Dream, the group delivered a assured assertion of intent that discovered it plumbing the depths of AOR radio for nostalgic sounds to weave collectively and drown in reverb. It was acquainted however thrilling, a mix of time-tested fundamentals that got here collectively as one thing extra significant than a mere, pleasant tickle of our collective musical recollections. The album acquired common acclaim, and shortly the band was promoting out exhibits on a two-year world tour, getting name-dropped by Apple executives, and signing with a significant label.


Appropriately, that major-label debut, A Deeper Understanding, is the band’s largest outing but, by each conceivable software. The ambition behind its songs and the enormity of the band’s sound and scope has grown proper alongside its profile. The alchemical mixture The Struggle On Medication perfected with Misplaced In The Dream remains to be the template, however that final report sounds restrained and lean by comparability, even when their distinction in runtime is just some measly minutes. Understanding’s songs are so towering and dense they threaten to topple over into soupy monotony, however what’s most spectacular about these 10 tracks is the way in which frontman Adam Granduciel and his bandmates prop them up with an infinite provide of electrifying, ear-catching particulars. As large because the sum of its songs’ components get, this can be a band that by no means fails to recollect there’s simply as a lot superior energy within the little issues.

It’s additionally a band that is aware of the worth of a deftly deployed guitar solo. Right here they’re uniformly incredible, however higher even than the licks themselves is the timing and meaningfulness with which they’re used. In the course of the choruses of “Ache,” Granduciel sings about preventing to interrupt from life’s repetition and our personal lack of management over the issues round us, whispering the ultimate line of “I wanna discover what can’t be discovered” earlier than lashing out with the ear-splitting notice that kicks off a defiant solo. The entire of “Strangest Factor,” a slow-burning album spotlight, builds to Granduciel passionately declaring he desires to run; liberated eventually, the band blasts into the music’s transcendent finale.

Granduciel has referred to as Deeper Understanding essentially the most targeted “band report” the group has recorded, with the famous perfectionist pushing his bandmates additional than ever in collaboration and efficiency. Throughout the numerous lush preparations on the hour-plus journey, everybody will get a shot on the highlight, and simply as a lot care has gone into the extra delicate hooks they create. “Up All Night time” opens the album with a pastiche of rubbery keys and a pulsating rhythm part. It languidly drives ahead—taking a break for a quick-and-fuzzy guitar solo, in fact—however essentially the most hanging shift is the mild, descending keyboard that leads the transition from the music’s bouncy physique to its downtempo closing stretch. On “In Chains,” it’s the drums that emerge to overshadow the music’s somewhat-sappy piano traces and bang the entire thing again into form.

It’s loopy to assume that Misplaced In The Dream—an album with music that sounded destined for arenas—may come off as small as compared simply three years later, however that’s precisely the impact A Deeper Understanding has. With a lot greater expectations weighing on the band, it’s produced a successor that shines up and builds on that breakthrough in each method. With the sheen and infinite assets of major-label manufacturing behind it, Understanding may have simply turn out to be bloated and ponderous. However even when it very practically does, notably within the again third, it’s all the time reined in by the eye to element, and the innate understanding of the precise second to raise issues with a tiny but efficient new melody or an enormous, sudden transition. If The Struggle On Medication had been to, by some means, purpose even greater from right here, A Deeper Understanding affirms it’s the sort of band that might truly pull it off.

Buying A Deeper Understanding via Amazon helps support The A.V. Club.

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