by David Chiu
This is the first ever National album I’ve heard in its entirety and it’s made a great impression on me. It’s easy to hear why High Violet has garnered such amazing reviews since its recent release. The music is both dark and turbulent yet poetic and uplifting at the same time. Naturally a song like “Sorrow” is melancholic but it’s treated with also such eloquence; “Anyone’s Ghost” is haunting and poppy; “Afraid of Everyone” recalls Bowie lyrically and perhaps is the album’s most accessible track; “Conversation 16” is as cinematic-sounding as it is beautiful; and the last song “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” (with its chorus of “All the very best of us string ourselves up for love”) is a lullaby of sorts. Equally adding to the songs’ heavy-hearted tone musically and lyrical abstractness is Matt Berninger deep,world-weary voice especially on the driving “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” Sonically the album borders on extremees from the minimalist and charming-sounding “Lemonworld” to the grand and symphonic “England.” If this is the National’s excellent work to date, then I now want to dig in on the earlier stuff.