So there’s probably nothing I can say about this record which has not already been said elsewhere. I know everyone has been getting massively excited about this record and, to be honest with you, I could not agree more with all the shouting and hollering about how good this record is. I usually run a million miles from hype, but the National are different for me. But it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to people that it’s so good. The only surprising thing for me is that it’s taken this long for them to receive the attention they deserve? What really is the difference between this and anything they’ve done in the past, bar a bigger budget, perhaps better production and upping their game a little in the song writing stakes? Let’s face it. ‘Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers’ is a great album. ‘Alligator’ is a great album. ‘Boxer’ is a great album. ‘The Cherry Tree EP’ is great too. ‘The National’ is a beginning, but it’s a good beginning and has some amazing songs. Songs like ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’ remain as good as anything they’ve ever written and even on their early releases you had songs like ‘About Today,’ which scream ‘this band has the potential to be massive’. And so, it seems, they are going to be massive. And rightly so. But should we really be surprised based on their back catalogue? Absolutely not.
High Violet is a step forward, without a shadow of a doubt but that’s kind of the reason I love the National so much. Progression. Development. Knowing that they can do better every time. And despite the shouting from the rooftop about this being their masterpiece, I actually believe that they can and will do better next time out. 5 star reviews suggest perfection. I think there’s more to come. It’s so inspiring listening to a band who can change very little about their sound. Very little about what makes them so good. And yet get better and better with every release. Think of the number of bands who put out an amazing debut record and then suffer for it when it comes to albums 2 and 3, even 4. Others trudge along, just writing and releasing records they believe in and slowly but surely people start to understand why they are so good. If ever there was an example of this it’s the National. Nothing is different. There is no change in direction. There is no massive alterations to the formula. Songs from this record could sit perfectly on other records and vice versa. Herein lies there genius though. To keep doing the same thing but doing it better and better and better. Matt Berringer’s voice is as stunning as ever. For me though, what makes this band so amazing is their drummer Bryan Devendorf. The first time I heard ‘Boxer’ it was the drums that stunned me. How he can shape and change a song so subtly. The way he changes things up on songs when nothing else really changes too dramatically, like on ‘Afraid of Everyone’. He leads the band. He conducts the band. He drives the band forward. If only all drummers were this good. Stunning.
Anyways, I could go through each track on this record and describe how and why it’s so good. Why it gives me goose bumps from start until finish. But it seems that people don’t need me to tell them. The word is out there. The National are here. And they are only going to get better.