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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

7.0

The National
High Violet

The National strike me as a band that I should like a lot more than I actually do. And admittedly some of their songs strike me as utterly captivating (90 Mile Water Wall, Fake Empire, So Far Around The Bend). But when it comes down to the push and shove, Matt Berninger's voice is so God damn depressing that I really find it hard to enjoy a lot of their music.

However, with so much press giving each other hand jobs over how brilliant the band's new record, High Violet, was going to be, I was really hoping that hearing the album would be the turning point in my relationship with their music. After all, I do recognise the Dessner and Devendorf brothers as brilliant musicians. They build and create amazing sonic landscapes that sound as equally epic as they are quietly personal, conjuring such extreme levels of emotion that I can only imagine the band needs to wear plastic ponchos onstage to save themselves from being drenched by the audience's tears.

So when I sat down to listen to High Violet, I was prepared to be much more open-minded about my opinion of it than I would normally allow myself to be for so many other bands. Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, my turning point with The National continues to evade me.

That's not to say I don't love some of the material on High Violet. Afraid Of Everyone (featuring everyone's favourite Christian indie kid Sufjan Stevens on backing "Ohhs") and Bloodbuzz Ohio have been added to my list of genius The National songs.

Yet again though, it's the sad old bastard baritone that is Matt Berninger's voice that makes it impossible for me to fall for this record. Listening to High Violet is like listening to the soundtrack of clinical depression, which shouldn't necessarily be a negative thing. Music is as much designed to expose feelings of sadness and longing as it is to inspire listeners and fill them with joy. The aforementioned Sufjan Stevens is a genius in the field of taking the desperately sad and heart wrenching and transforming it into something of astounding beauty.

But it's Stevens' tender voice and musicianship that makes his sad cunt stories so captivating. Whereas Berninger's deep groans reach points of almost being monotone in their delivery and after hearing song after song of the same exhaustive droning and moaning, it gets to the point where I just can't bare to listen to it anymore.

I'm sure that this record will be critically acclaimed and will end up on a lot of critics' 'best of 2010' lists. But for the moment, The National and I will remain musical acquaintances, rather than the firm friends I hope we one day will become.

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The National

 

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Comments

deadly781

I don't agree. Your ears and heart are not in tune with this music so your use language to describe it is limited and immature.

1 decade ago

(nobody)

It is a pretty immature review, I normally enjoy your reviews so for the time being we will remain review acquaintances rather than firm friends.

1 decade ago

(nobody)

"It's pretty obvious that Britt Daniel got an extra dollop of charisma when they were buttering the cool cunt sandwiches. The man may as well be Arthur Fonzarelli jumping a tank of sharks on a motorcycle."

This is the kind of shit i'm talkin bout......

1 decade ago

(nobody)

This is my favourite record of the year thus far. The attention to detail and subtlety of it just kill me. I don't actually even find it particularly depressing. And I agree with the above comments. Dropping unnecessary c-bombs in your album reviews immediately lowers the bar and generally won't win you any fans.

For those who love this record as much as I do, here is a really well written article on its making - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25national-t.html?pagewanted=1

1 decade ago

bella

1) this review sums up my experience with the national perfectly. I'm sure it's beautiful music and one day I might understand it, but I find the singer's voice really difficult to get past.

2) how is the language in this review immature? I'm pretty sure he talked about "creating amazing sonic landscapes." it's not like he wrote, "hey you guys this record sux BALLS k, love rav!!" which is what he should have said.

3) cunt is the best word. don't deny it.

4) Rav has lots of fans, me included.

1 decade ago

Wayne

I think High Violet is a great album, one of the year's best. I love the texture and subtlety on display and Berninger's voice is just amazing. I could listen to him sing the phonebook. I don't find it depressing at all.

1 decade ago

Rav

Thanks @bella!

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

how fkkking sic is the ny times aye

1 decade ago

(nobody)

The NY times is farking sic but some of their voices are too depressing!

1 decade ago

flukazoid

You should all be listening to The Besnard Lakes guys. they're the gold standard for good music now. didn't you know?

1 decade ago

(nobody)

Boxer is one of my favourite albums, it is dark and I have not heard anything like it since. In saying that - I think high violet is a good album, but no near as good as boxer. I struggle to see how boxer didn't kick on down under.

On a separate note; let me concur with you on the Sufjan analogy. Further to that; I just want to put it out there that I like Sufjan Stevens music so music that I get naked and stick banana's up my arse when I listen to it...maybe not, but I would If someone asked me to demonstrate how much i liked Sufjan's music with a banana.

Keep up solid work champ.

BG

1 decade ago

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