Perfect Album Companion

Following the success of their last album, 'Boxer', The National are releasing a double-disc set composing of an EP with b-sides and previously unreleased material and a DVD filmed by Vincent Moon. 'A Skin, A Night' is years ahead of your average music DVD or rockumentary because, while both of these concepts are static and present one moment in time, Vincent Moon's work is a beautiful transient pastiche bringing your closer to the band and their work through aesthetic elegance and tender testimonial.

From rapidly oscillating live footage in vibrant colours that perfectly match the sentiment of the songs, to gritty insights into the recording process of 'Boxer', Moon captures the essence of The National beautifully. It's somewhere between the fact that the band are utterly down to earth, and that they are highly exceptional in their ability to paint the most beautiful scenarios in their music, which Moon portrays in his own stunning filming of children playing and cities rushing past. Parts of the film feel like a travelogue with planes, highways and various lingering shots of American high rise, making the film feels in parts like an extended music video. Tender and reflective, 'A Skin, A Night' let's the band's work speak for itself as it uncovers the creative process behind their most successful album to date.

'The Virginia EP' features previously unreleased material such as demos, session and live tracks as well as b-sides. It's a pleasant assortment of warm, consuming tracks that were probably best off not diluting the impact of the album, but have plenty to offer here.

"I go out looking in parked cars for someone famous to kidnap and love," affirms Berninger in wonderful UK b-side, 'Blank Slate', testimony to the fact that none of these b-sides are at all lacking in wit and eloquence. The demos are equally breathtaking in places, 'Rest Of Years' sounds raw and underproduced but the sharp guitars and aching vocals tug the heartstrings in all the right places. Hearing the demo of album highlight, 'Slow Show' is a rare treat with a guitar pattern that ripples and stark differences in the melody. Like the DVD, these early versions of well-known tracks are a charming insight into the way that the band work and the evolution of their music.

The unreleased cover of Caroline Martin's 'Without Permission' is contemplative and Berninger's rich vocals suit the heavily-laden tune perfectly, while slow-moving guitars and twinkling percussion lift the mood. The other cover, of 'Mansion On The Hill' is a live recording with pulsing plucked violin and glassy guitar melody that build to a lofty peak. Other live tracks like, 'Fake Empire' have far more to show than just a more enthusiastic version of an album tracks, with added backing vocals and a flood of percussive clapping from the audience, this recording really makes you feel part of the moment.

Fans are sure to go crazy over this intimate collection of music and film that allows them a further look into the world of one of the most engaging bands of the moment.