The National’s last two albums were great. So great that both of them probably could have had a chance of making it on to my Top 10 of the decade list, if wasn’t for the fact that I first got into them about a month after the decade ended. Their latest release, High Violet is at that same high standard that The National have set for themselves.
The National already have a bit of a reputation for having a sad-sack mopey quality to their music, and yet High Violet has an even darker sound to it than its predecessors. Matt Berninger’s deep baritone still serves as one of the most interesting voices in indie rock, while his lyrics make him sound like he’s just as much of a wreck as ever. And just like on their past albums, drummer Brian Devendorf’s intricate drum patterns give the band that same driving sense of immediacy.
Overall, High Violet has a bit fuller sound than 2007’s Boxer, with plenty of strings and horns complementing the guitar work of brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner. As they also did on Boxer, a number of the songs such as “Terrible Love” and “England” share the characteristic of starting off in a very unassuming, subdued manner before building and building to these huge beautiful climaxes.
The National’s albums have often been described as “growers”, in that they take quite a few listens before they start to grow on you. Well High Violet is no exception, and I can say that because I’ve been listening to it pretty constantly ever since it’d been streaming over the internet a few weeks ago. So if this album sounds a little boring to you at first, do not give up on it my friend, it’s another fine release from The National that’s more than worthy of your time.
Favorite Tracks: “Terrible Love”, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, “Conversation 16”