The National – High Violet

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1. If this band didn’t have this drummer, they would be nothing.

2. This is as dad-rock as a modern indie rock band could possibly get.

3. The word “dad-rock” isn’t meant as an insult to people listening to the music, but rather the people making the music; the National were always Banana Republic-friendly, but they used to have post-punk tendencies that culminated in Alligator’s “Abel” or Boxer’s “Mistaken for Strangers.” Here, the most they can muster is the guitar revving throughout “Afraid of Everyone” which just revs instead of doing anything; all bark and no bite.

3. The lyrics here are generic garbage: “I was afraid I’d eat your brains” is unfortunately emblematic. “It’s a common fetish for a doting man / To ballerina on the coffee table cock in hand?” seems like an impossibility now.

5. You might empathize with the narrator of “Anyone’s Ghost,” wherein a girl lies to him about her whereabouts, but that’s all that happens in that song.

6. They re-use the same “ooh”-backing vocals over chaotic drums climax from “Terrible Love” on “Sorrow,” which is immediately afterwards!

7. All that being said, I’m confident this is their best album. Sure, nothing here is as good as the aforementioned “Karen,” “Fake Empire” or “Mistaken for Strangers,” but the five-song stretch from “Bloodbuzz Ohio” through to “England” offers some of the band’s most potent melodies – especially on “Lemonworld,” which I never hear mentioned. (“Lemonworld” also comes with the album’s best set of lyrics, “I gave my heart to the army / The only sentimental thing I could think of / With cousins and colors and somewhere overseas / But it’ll take a better war to kill a college man like me.”)

8. ”England” is the album’s most accomplished song, with a skeletal structure of driving major third intervals that the band slowly fill the space in (with some horn action as well), to the well-controlled climax.

9. Replace “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” with “Exile Vilify,” a non-album single from the Portal 2 soundtrack where they finally embrace their inner Scott Walker and come out with the best thing Scott Walker has done since 1969.

B+

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One response to “The National – High Violet

  1. Pingback: The National – Trouble Will Find Me | Free City Sounds·

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