13 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since The National's 2001 debut, the world-weary baritone of frontman and songwriter Matt Berninger has become one of the most compelling voices in Brooklyn’s well-groomed indie scene, begging comparisons to darkly tempered rock outsiders like Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. The follow-up to 2010’s celebrated High Violet is a set of beautifully produced contemplations on shadowy love, self-destruction, and urban ennui. Chipper? Hardly. But songs like “Demons,” “Heavenfaced,” and “I Need My Girl” are impossible to shake.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since The National's 2001 debut, the world-weary baritone of frontman and songwriter Matt Berninger has become one of the most compelling voices in Brooklyn’s well-groomed indie scene, begging comparisons to darkly tempered rock outsiders like Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. The follow-up to 2010’s celebrated High Violet is a set of beautifully produced contemplations on shadowy love, self-destruction, and urban ennui. Chipper? Hardly. But songs like “Demons,” “Heavenfaced,” and “I Need My Girl” are impossible to shake.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
1.2K Ratings
1.2K Ratings
AZ Spots ,

reaching across decades...

I'm a 65 yr. old guy that discovered The National about 4 yrs. ago. Their music reaches my gut. It's wonderful that this kind of music is out there. Thanks for making me feel the depth.

blue.violet ,

The National’s 6th album: Demons don’t Swallow the Cap

The National have released two clues for their forthcoming 6th album. Demons and Don’t Swallow the Cap suggest the follow-up to 2010’s High Violet will be less prone to the grandiose crescendos of its predecessor (think England, Terrible Love, Afraid of Everyone), more similar in tone to the restrained Boxer. Still, unlike Boxer, where the band remained uncertain of its rising potential, on Demons and Don’t Swallow the Cap, the musicians are aware of—if they are struggling to accept—their present success and inevitable mortality.

On Demons, over an unconventional, anxious, 7/8 count, Berninger admits in his confident baritone, “I’m going through an awkward phase….there’s no running from it.” Finally coming to terms with the band’s acclaimed recognition, Berninger prefers not—or doesn’t know how—to embrace it and instead remains “down with my demons.” Paradoxically, after having experienced the bright lights of a world tour, the front man “does not light up” rooms as he once did three albums ago when high beams lit up his back.

If Demons is an uncomfortable admission of having made it, Don’t Swallow the Cap hints at the falling action. Berninger implies there’s nothing left to reveal: “Everything I love is on the table; everything I love is out to sea.” In one of his more explicit moments, the singer wonders, “Is it time to leave?” His bandmates mirror his fear of closure. Bryan Devendorf drives an eerie British punk rhythm backed by nostalgic strings. Instead of delivering an ambitious outro as they may have on High Violet, the instrumentalists slowly peel layers from the song, allowing it to drift away. Of course, the interpretation may not be this simple. The title itself suggests an internal battle between impending mortality and a desire to keep on. Don’t swallow the cap; reach for another.

On both tracks, previous motifs are updated. “Tiny bubbles hang above” him and his “drowning friends”, implying, optimistically, it may be time to stop living underwater. The ocean, unlike its previous turbulence, is now serene. Faith is also revisited with a slightly more certain attitude. After having wished to believe, Berninger now has faith (but don’t believe it), painting an image of an approaching bright white beautiful heaven, complete with girls at its door.

Given harbingers of mortality and closure, the urgency to appreciate the forthcoming album heightens. Like it will all of us, trouble will inevitably find them.

-MDG

dudeman1122 ,

Disappointed?! Are You Serious

I will first say that High Violet is a more ambitious, but not better, album. It is incomparable to Trouble Will Find Me. What makes this release so captivating is the ability that The National has to just sit in their groove confidently, yet with that trademark sadness. An excellent accomplishment that has taken years to perfect and easily one of the best for 2013 so far.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Don't Swallow the Cap, Graceless, Pink Rabbits, Sea of Love, Humiliation, and I Should Live in Salt

More By The National

You May Also Like