The National is an American indie rock band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, in 1999, and currently based in Brooklyn. The band’s lyrics, which have been described as “dark, melancholy and difficult to interpret”, are written and sung by Matt Berninger, a baritone. The band’s music is composed and performed by Aaron Dessner (guitar and keyboard), Bryce Dessner(guitar), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). The band has recorded six studio albums; the most recent, Trouble Will Find Me, was released in May 2013 and was nominated in the 2014 Grammys for Best Alternative Album.
Beautiful Head—-Beginning beautifully quiet and then opening up to a beautiful jangly guitar and that wonderfully seductive baritone voice. The words come with so many messages…making you truly ponder the story that is being told.The track is a beautiful example of the stripped down talent of this band…..just wonderful!
Cold Girl Fever—-Even more upbeat musically, the voice is still pained and beautiful. The slight female backdrop harmony allows for a wonderfully sad setting. This is a brilliant debut release….so promising and intense…..I have listened to this a hundred times or so…and it always sounds fresh and new to me.
The Perfect Song—-A quiet sedate guitar strums out the song…the vocal seems to be pushed back and somehow muted. Out of the silence, the song slowly opens up into a beautiful almost Alt-Country song that makes me smile and sad at the same time. Just remarkable.
American Mary—-This is the song I cut my National teeth on…and I fell in love immediately. The gentleness of the story…the dark edge to a love entity…the beautiful music…it comes together and creates a perfect storm of immaculate beauty. This is classic Americana….when the chorus opens up….you are swept away in emotion.
Son—-With little instrumental introduction, this tale begins right from the gate. The song is stripped and bare…more sparse than the best Springsteen. I love when the chorus kicks in and the song opens up a bit but never looses the intensity of the solitary introduction. This is damn brilliant.
Pay For Me—-With a tad bit of a more almost rock-a-billy feel, this is a pleasant more upbeat tome that fits with the rest of this release perfectly. The tales that are told are complicated…but make you think….just as music should do. The noise in the middle of the track is a nice surprise…..this is great!
Bitters & Absolute—-Stark and with an edge of loneliness…the dual vocals are just incredible….making me want to find a nice bar to toss back a few and revisit Americana. This is wonderfully stark…but full of layers and emotion. I just love this record…damn.
John’s Star—-With an almost sludgy feel to the intro, this reminds me of working class people, factories and the Midwest. The landscape of the music takes you right back to the Rust Belt of America…normal people with extraordinary feelings making fantastic music.
Watching You Well—-Stark and brilliant…with the slight whine of as steel guitar and a simple drum to lead the way. The joint vocals provide a wave of emotional sounds that transport me….allow me to gaze off at the sky and take me somewhere else. This is just fantastic!!!!
Many Of The Crows—-Simple…..yet layered with lines of emotion. The baritone that is so familiar now…stretches some and makes you feel even more desolate….this is wonderfully layered with an urgency and anger that never crosses the line…but lets you feel every word…
29 Years—-Stark with a very different vocal delivery….almost a spoken word story put to minimalist music…the result is a throwback to an era long gone…when music was more than noise or beats…but a story and a message.
Anna Freud—-Simplistic yet carrying a story that many people have probably never even heard of before. You see…that is brilliance….what a classic way to end a beautiful, beautiful composition.
***** out of 5 [!!!!!]