Several artists throughout history have pushed to the frontier of musical innovation by inventing new genres, inspiring scores of musicians to emulate their sounds. Kanye West established the modern incarnation of hip-hop. Bob Dylan founded American folk rock. The Beatles reinvented basically every other type of rock. Philadelphia alternative rock band The War on Drugs is not one of those artists, and not only do they know it, but they embrace it. Among all the artists who try to combine the sounds of their pioneering influences to create something unique, perhaps no one does it better than The War on Drugs. This is elegantly proven on their new album “A Deeper Understanding.”

Founded by guitarist and vocalist Adam Granduciel and guitarist Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs launched their career with “Wagonwheel Blues,” a fresh enough take on Americana that isn’t nearly as clichéd as its title suggests. Since Vile’s subsequent departure, Granduciel has been shying his band away from the constant Springsteen and Dylan comparisons in favor of a subtler, more texture-driven sound. With each album the production has grown increasingly brilliant, until the band finally arrived at their sonic opus “Lost in the Dream” in 2014. With half of its songs clocking in at over six minutes, “Lost in the Dream” created a massive soundscape that combined the indie art rock of Arcade Fire with the dream pop elements of Slowdive. Now, The War on Drugs returns with “A Deeper Understanding,” an album that only slightly falls short of the production wonders of its predecessor while implementing even more influences and styles.

“Up All Night” leads the album and perhaps best embodies all of the sounds that follow. Driven by a piano melody reminiscent of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the song also brings to the forefront elements that are unexpected and refreshing for The War on Drugs: ’80s synths and drumbeats. Halfway through, Granduciel’s phenomenal guitar work shreds through the track, while his voice remains ever so perfectly off-tune and passionate, retaining his Americana roots. “Pain” follows, flawlessly blending acoustic and electric with guitar solos that resemble the Edge’s stadium presence. “Holding On” brings the synths again and is only bogged down by a glockenspiel melody all too similar to Springsteen’s most clichéd songs.

The remaining seven songs either play like stadium ballads, continue to explore The War on Drugs newfound interest in 80’s synth rock or do both. “Strangest Thing,” which shows similarities to Slowdive’s recent hit “Sugar For The Pill,” hits home as one of the stronger ballads The War on Drugs has released. The following track “Knocked Down,” however, is not unique or interesting enough to support the emotion with which Granduciel sings, and “Thinking of a Place,” while extremely well put together, is far too long. The synth-heavy “Nothing to Find,” on the other hand, is a wonderful tribute to New Order (see their recent album closer “Superheated”), and yet it never strays too far from The War on Drugs’ indie rock feel, which pervades the entire album.

With just a couple minor misfires, “A Deeper Understanding” somehow implements even more musical influences on The War on Drugs than any of its predecessors. It is remarkable how seamlessly Granduciel is able to amalgamate Americana, stadium rock, art rock, noise rock and dream pop without sacrificing his band’s distinctive sound. In anticipation of this album, I hoped that The War on Drugs would begin to look forward, to experiment and innovate from within rather than from past influences. “A Deeper Understanding” demonstrates that they don’t need to pioneer new genres and sounds in order to fortify their unique sound.