Yes….The National is out with their seventh album four years after their last outing Trouble Will find Me. And they call this one Sleep Well Beast…….and boy…….I am floored…..just simply……no doubt about that one. the album is already on repeat for me in my playlist, and the brilliance of this album doesn’t surprise me……when it is The National.
While talking about this album vis-a-vis their previous outings, I will not go by a song by song dissect, rather I will rather have a holistic approach to their new album in totality and also to their music as a whole.
But, first, a little introduction of the band for those who are new to their music.
The band originated in Cincinnati Ohio in 1999. Later they moved on to Brooklyn. The band consists of the following members :
- Matt Berninger – Vocals
- Aaron Dessner – Guitar and Keyboards
- Bryce Dessner – Guitar
- Scott Devendorf – Bass
- Bryan Devendorf – Drums.
Needless to mention that Matt Berninger basically drives the sound with his booming rich baritones and does the song writing too primarily. You will find his prominent presence in every song from The National.
Indie alternative rock…..that’s the genre I will put them to……..with seven albums to their credit namely The National, Sad songs for Dirty Lovers and Cherry Tree, Alligator, Boxer, High Violet, Trouble Will Find Me and including the present one, Sleep Well Beast, the band has already established themselves in the music world as one the most respected senior bands in the indie alternative rock genre with almost all the band members aging somewhere closer to their 50’s…..but that apart, the band has been a blessing for music lovers with their quality writing and music………and seven brilliant albums old…….
Coming back to their new offering, Sleep Well Beast album truly resonates the feelings that we deal in our mid-life, of accomplishments and failed dreams, of angst and memories of tons of crazy adventures…….and finally the coming to terms with the “what has gone and what is left” period of life. Matt and his boys carefully conjures up these myriad of emotions, mostly melancholy and secluded, sad at most parts, and hauntingly beautiful, as is the highlight of any album from The National. The careful integration of piano driven brooding ballads with electronic arrangements and guitar riffs along with Matt’s voice gives this album that classy elegance. This is a must listen album for fans and music lovers from anywhere.
If you ask me personally, I love all the songs in this album, yet there are few songs which stand out than the rest, namely, Guilty Party, Born to Beg, I’ll Still Destroy You, Dark Side of the Gym, Sleep Well Beast…….Matt’s song writing on these ones along with the help of his wife Carin Besser blends perfectly with the haunting arrangements of brilliant drum programming with piano and guitars creating soundscapes very much bread and butter for the band.
I will share the entire album tracks with you to listen…….and here’s some videos from the band’s songs both from this album and from earlier albums which are some of my top favorites…….this is Bloodbuzz Ohio from their High Violet album……..
And this is Guilty Party from their new album…….performed live at Pitchfork festivals this year……hope you will love this version…..
Matt says he never writes songs first before the music and rhythm is set……..”I never fill a journal with lyrics”………he waits till Aaron and Bryce Dessner creates the music, and then he sets down to write the lyrics according to the music and gives shape to everything…..and just see what that creation brings on the plate………and Matt’s voice is already the talk of everyone, very much in almost the same level as the baritones of the world who have kept us in a trance all through…..
Here is a cathartic, dreamy, beautiful “I’ll Still Destroy you”…….performed live……this is music purely in a dream state……:)
Truly Matt speaks to all of us asking the very pertinent questions about how long we are going to stay alive at this rate the world is going now…….in his song he says “the day I die, where will I be?”………well….asking is not wrong and I hope we will have to find out the answers to that one……very soon.
Here’s another song from their High Violet album, called Conversation 16………enjoy this one……played live on Letterman……..
I don’t really care whether this album pushes us to further doom and despair as is evident in Matt’s lyrics, this album has every elements of the subtle brilliance associated with the music of The National all through these years, and it still instills the hope and positive affirmations in music lovers that good music never ceases to experiment and surprise, and the band has just done that, they have given us a truly brilliant album.
Thanks everybody………try out the music of The National……if you haven’t already. Here’s the entire tracks for your listening pleasure……