CD Review – The National – High Violet
The group is so acclaimed and beloved, that any new work is bound to be met with high expectations. High Violet, therefore, comes burdened with these expectations. It doesn’t just have to be a good album, it must be a brilliant one; it can’t just be better than what it follows, it needs to be an outright modern classic. Which, of course, is all a little unfair.
The album is being talked about in certain circle as a album of the year, but this is no release to shout about from the rooftops- its grip soft and easily shrugged off by those who choose to pay it only passing attention. Live with it a while, though, and High Violet rewards patience with songs that colour one’s waking existence, becoming vivid night-time narrative when curtains are drawn.
Those who’ve embraced Matt Berninger’s baritone, and subsequently each fascinating detail that trails in its wake, have discovered a band for life – for love and loss, euphoric highs and exhausting lows. For everything, always. Berninger’s lyrics are incredibly engaging; but his stories, delivered with wrenching sincerity, form the first point entry for newcomers awaiting enlightenment. High Violet is an album characterized largely by absence, and displacement – of being someplace other than ideal. It is the sound of a band taking a mandate to be meaningful rock band seriously, and they play the part so fully that, to some, it may be off-putting. But these aren’t mawkish, empty gestures; they’re anxious, personal songs projected onto wide screens.
Best tracks: Terrible Love; Bloodbuzz Ohio; English