The War on Drugs, ‘Holding On’ | Track Review
Alt-rock six-piece band The War on Drugs deliver a gem with “Holding On,” the promo single from their August 2017 album, A Deeper Understanding.
As the old saying goes, “alt-rock bands have more fun.” Actually, there’s no such saying, but doesn’t that statement often ring true? The War on Drugs released their third album, the universally acclaimed Lost in the Dream in 2014. They return in 2017 with A Deeper Understanding. If promo single “Holding On” is any indication, A Deeper Understanding will be another tour de force.
“Holding On” commences with a distinct rhythmic synth. After the synth establishes its identity, the full production work enters, creating a bright, rhythmically-driven, enthusiastic sound. This includes drums, guitar, keyboards – the whole shebang. Frontman Adam Granduciel then enters the mix. He sounds superb vocally, showcasing a beautiful tone and an undeniable exuberance that matches the production work. The lyrics are poetic and honest on the verses, as he depicts the push-and-pull of love. On the first verse, he reminisces:
“Once I was alive and I could feel / I was holding on to you / And I redefined the way I looked at dawn inside of you / I went down a crooked highway / I went all outside the line / I’ve been rejected, now the light has turned and I’m out of time.”
Granduciel offers the same sentiments of holding on to love and the relationship on the second verse. He asks:
“Can we walk it side by side? / Is an old member just another way of saying goodbye?”
On The chorus, the sentiment is distress over the state of the relationship. Granduciel sings:
“Feel like I’m about to crash / Riding on my line, keep holding on.”
The questions and emotions continue to haunt him on the chorus, finding Granduciel describing his actions and questioning his emotions. Essentially, he wonders if he’s held onto the past for too long. Finally, he sings on the bridge:
“And I’m moving on a cast / Shadows on my seam / I keep moving to changes.”
All in all, The War on Drugs deliver one of the best songs of 2017 with “Holding On.” It’s simply gorgeous – beautifully produced, exceptionally well performed, and soundly penned. Six minutes is ambitious in an age where the attention span is shorter and shorter, but “Holding On” is worth every bit of its duration. Granduciel and The War on Drugs nail this one.