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High Violet

The National

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Album Review

The National have worn a lot of hats since their 2001 debut, but they’ve never been able to shake the rural, book-smart, quiet violence of the Midwest. The Brooklyn-groomed, Ohio-bred indie rock quintet’s fifth full-length album navigates that lonely dirt road where swagger meets desperation like a seasoned tour guide, and while it may take a few songs to get going, there are treasures to be found for patient passengers. High Violet begins to take shape on “Afraid of Everyone,” a slow-build midtempo rocker, but it’s the punishing “Bloodbuzz Ohio” that serves as the record's centerpiece. Its refrain of “I still owe money to the money, to the money I owe” seems relevant and nostalgic, a highway anthem that feels like the anti-“Born to Run.”

Customer Reviews

'A Good Album That Showed Great Potential'

Let me begin by saying that i am a huge fan of The National. I think that almost anything these guys release is bound to be better than what most other indie rock bands have on offer at the time. However i must admit that i find 'High Violet' to be a little underwhelming. Many of the songs sound similar and upon initial listenings there appears to be a lack of standout tracks (with the exception of 'Terrible Love').The album can become quite repetative and dull in parts and may leave you with a feeling of 'Been there, done that'. There are however some truly beautiful moments on show such as the soaring 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks', 'England' and the amazing 'Terrible Love' (however i must admit to feeling somewhat dissapointed with the album version after hearing the band sing it live on Jimmy Fallon). If you were a fan of 'Boxer' you will more than likely find yourself spending a lot of time with 'High Violet'. However if your like me and think that 'Alligator' was the better record than you may feel a little dissapointed with the new LP. All in all a good album that perhaps didn't entirely live up to it's full potential.

Album of the year

Heavy instrumentation and layered production create an anthemic yet moody atmosphere, Matt sounds great as usual.

Sorrow, Little Faith, Bloodbuzz Ohio and Runaway are standouts but really there are no duds in this album.

This is high quality music from a high quality band, if you want fans to buy entire albums this is what they should sound like.

Album of the year for me !!

Definitely enjoying being lead to the flood.

The performance of the opening track 'Terrible Love' on Jimmy Fallon a while back set the precedent for a high-paced, momentous record that spills over into the elaborately structured chaos of past hits such as Mr. November, Abel etc. However, when the album version finally surfaced it was met with a lot of criticism. Apparently it didn't carry the same energy or excitement as the live performance had. What it does carry however is the elaborate sound layering, beautifully literary lyrics and patient, controlled instrumental swell that make The National one of the most enjoyable bands around at the moment.

It is precisely these elements that make High Violet one of the best albums I have heard in a long, long time. With guest appearances from Sufjan Stevens (Afraid of Everyone) and Justin Vernon (Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks), aswell as countless others, the album is a carefully crafted exploration of musical possibiliy that never disappoints.

The title itself was apparently taken from a book of the same name that Berninger found in a second hand store, a religious book that was full of concepts and ideas that seemed so chaotic and trivial, yet ineffably important. And this is what we're hearing on the record; our daily fears, losses and struggles that are only important in the sense that they are immediately relevant to ourselves. This notion is reflected in Berninger's ambiguos and emotional first hand lyrics, written with the intention of the listener being able to place themselves within each song without the constraint of exact details.

The result is a wonderfully crafted album that emotionally involves the listener on an extremely personal and intimate level on every track. An absolute must have for any fan of The National, or just good music in general. Hard to chose any standout tracks, but if I had to chose three it would be Terrible Love, Runaway and England. Enjoy!

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although formed during the post-punk revival of the late '90s, the National took inspiration from a wider set of influences, including country-rock, Americana, indie rock, and Brit-pop. The lineup began taking shape in Ohio and officially cemented itself in New York, with baritone vocalist Matt Berninger joining forces with two sets of brothers — Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums), and Aaron (guitar) and Bryce Dessner (guitar). After establishing themselves as a live act, the bandmates...
Full Bio

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