A band at their best

Five albums in and The National just seem to keep getting better and better. “High Violet” really needs you to spend some quiet time with it, but when you do it pays you back over and over, growing on you with every listen. As with all their releases it’s a listening experience not something you can just put on in the background when you have friends over; Matt Berninger’s baritone vocal delivery is dreamy and resonant, piano, brass, strings and guitar give most of the tracks a beautiful sweeping quality and often they build to a dramatic climax, but they all also have great melodies that are easy to sing along to and underneath everything, a feeling of melancholy; things lost and left behind.

Album opener ‘Terrible Love’ has a fuzzy, distorted quality, ‘Sorrow’ brings on all sorts of tingles from head to toe, lyrically it has quite an impact and vocally Matt owns the floor here, it is all about his beautiful delivery. ‘Anyone’s Ghost’ again has a melancholic quality and it is easy to lose yourself singing along to the chorus. Despite all the tracks on the album being individually memorable there are still some that stand out: the previously mentioned ‘Sorrow’; ‘Afraid Of Everyone’ is dreamy, full of echoes and has one of the more memorable melodies; ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ the recent single has a huge sound when it gets going, it has sweeping strings and piano which bring you to emotional highs throughout, it is brilliant and ‘England’ starts with throbbing drums and a simple riff and soon becomes one of those almost painfully emotional tracks which leave you breathless.

The quality of the record means that picking out tracks is difficult with not a bad one amongst the eleven offered; overall it is excellent and you know right from the start that this is a band at their creative best. This should be the album that makes them huge.