My mother just doesn’t get the “electronic” songs, as she puts it. Never did, really, especially when things started getting really wispy, super synth-y, shoegaze-y to the nth degree: Growing up on Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones, she likes her music with an emotional drive that makes the bones rattle, not one that shoots you into the clouds. And it’s true that, sometimes, heavily electronic music can be difficult to make a visceral connection with, especially if you are used to the organic reverberation of real drums and wood instruments — or especially if you don’t have any hallucinogenic substances to nudge you along on the way to submission.
Part of what has always made the War on Drugs so powerful is the way they bridge that modernity — particularly dreamy splashes of synth — with the organic core of rock and folk (Bruce Springsteen and ’80s Bob Dylan are common references). Lead by the voice of Adam Granduciel, the band’s newest single, “Strangest Thing,” sounds like a song made for those who enjoy being both grounded to the earth and united with the air. Rolling in to a slow, plaintive beat with synth and keys that ring like darts of sunlight, Granduciel asks questions that transcend those generational splits: “Am I just living in the space between the beauty and the pain?” he sings. From their forthcoming release, A Deeper Understanding, it’s the perfect swirl of acoustic and electric to reflect a time obsessed with the past but raging fast into the future.