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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2013 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 5/6 de Magic - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Hi-Res Audio
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
This eighth album from The National is refreshingly different, somewhat modifying the well-oiled mechanics of this American band. First and foremost, this is achieved through the presence of several female singers who support the leader Matt Berninger on most of the tracks. The most memorable are the performances of Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie’s bassist) on Had Your Soul With You, as well as the particularly poignant performances of Lisa Hannigan and Mina Tindle on So Far So East and Oblivions respectively, the latter being especially moving. Why this sudden feminine presence for an exclusively male band? It’s likely because the album was conceived after filmmaker Mike Mills asked The National to put his short film I Am Easy to Find into song form - a film which happens to be centred around a woman. It’s this relationship to images that has somewhat upended the Brooklyn band’s pop formula. There are a few references to some classics of cinema, chiefly Roman Holiday by William Wyler (1953). But apart from the new cinematic release, fans of The National will still find the legendary melancholy of the group in both the lyrics and the music. The presence of heart-wrenching strings on all the tracks (with the exception of the staccato violins on Where Is Her Head) as well as a recurring introspective piano (notably in the beautiful Light Years) will particularly be remembered. Bryan Devendorf’s singular rhythms plays on contrasts, occasionally making striking jerks (Rylan, The Pull of You) as well as adding a sensual flair (Hairpin Turns, I Am Easy to Find). © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz  
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 8, 2017 | 4AD

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They’re not ones for making waves and it’s not often that their music comes out of supermarket or airport speakers. Yet The National have become a major band - major because they are able to sell out concert halls, stadiums even, in the blink of an eye. And above all, they continue to create indie rock while offering rather classic melodic frames that never stray far from the status quo. Less adventurous than Radiohead, Matt Berninger and two pairs of brothers (Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan and Scott Devendorf) use their individual and original ideas with the sole purpose of enhancing their songs. We find on Sleep Well Beast, which has just been released, this perfect mix of unified and experimental sounds which embellish their more than perfect compositions. As we often find with The National, simply listening just the once is not enough to be irradiated by the power of their songs. This is confirmed in this seventh album from the New Yorkers. Take your time, reflect upon each lyric, each instrumental effect. It is then and only then that the shell will open to reveal its beauty.
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | 4AD

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Formed in 1999, The National is composed of Matt Berninger, the Dessnet brothers and the Devendorf brothers. In 2007, the band from Ohio released one of their greatest albums, the fourth: Boxer. Eleven years later, they bring it back into the spotlight with this live recorded in Brussels and perform the entirety of the disc. But yielding to increasing demands, The National also opted for an official release. Faithful to the first version, the band keeps almost the same visual for the cover, a picture of them on stage at the wedding of producer Peter Katis. The quintet perfectly perform here from beginning to end, for a faithful and responsive audience. Opening with Fake Empire, a small musical prowess of which we like the destructured aspect, mainly in the association of pop keyboards playing off-beat with Berninger’s voice. An obvious alchemy with Brainy on which the guitars, the bass and the drum perfectly harmonize in some kind of musical discussion. Up to the last track Gospel, there is some sort of hypnotic charm at play, notably thanks to the contrast of this deep voice on a light and intense melody. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Pop/Rock - Released May 21, 2007 | Beggars Banquet

The National don't do anything radically different on Boxer, but then again, they don't really need to: their literate, quietly anthemic take on indie rock seemed to have arrived fully formed on their 2001 self-titled debut. Boxer just hones in even more precisely and intimately on the heartfelt territory the band covers, with punchy-yet-polished production and orchestration by the Clogs' Padma Newsome giving these songs an intimacy and widescreen expansiveness that rivals the Arcade Fire. The album's first four songs are among the National's finest work yet: "Fake Empire" begins as a dead-of-night ballad that echoes Leonard Cohen, then peppy brass and guitars turn it into something joyous. The brooding "Mistaken for Strangers" touches on the side of the band that could be mistaken for a more hopeful Joy Division, if lyrics like "You wouldn't want an angel watching over you?/Surprise surprise, they wouldn't want to watch" can be counted as hopeful. "Brainy," a borderline obsessive love song, shows off the remarkable, dark chocolate richness of Matt Berninger's vocals and how well they complement the band's occasionally bookish lyrics, while "Squalor Victoria" makes the most of Newsome's lavish string arrangements. The rest of Boxer is subtler, but no less accomplished, with each song supporting the other as a classic album should. "Apartment Story"'s hypnotic chug and "Slow Show"'s witty, knowing affection make them standouts, while the graceful, regretful "Ada" plays more like a short story than a song. As focused as it is ambitious, Boxer is riveting. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | 4AD

Formed in 1999, The National is composed of Matt Berninger, the Dessnet brothers and the Devendorf brothers. In 2007, the band from Ohio released one of their greatest albums, the fourth: Boxer. Eleven years later, they bring it back into the spotlight with this live recorded in Brussels and perform the entirety of the disc. But yielding to increasing demands, The National also opted for an official release. Faithful to the first version, the band keeps almost the same visual for the cover, a picture of them on stage at the wedding of producer Peter Katis. The quintet perfectly perform here from beginning to end, for a faithful and responsive audience. Opening with Fake Empire, a small musical prowess of which we like the destructured aspect, mainly in the association of pop keyboards playing off-beat with Berninger’s voice. An obvious alchemy with Brainy on which the guitars, the bass and the drum perfectly harmonize in some kind of musical discussion. Up to the last track Gospel, there is some sort of hypnotic charm at play, notably thanks to the contrast of this deep voice on a light and intense melody. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 22, 2010 | 4AD

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 malevolence 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. The National's profile rose considerably after 2007’s critically acclaimed The Boxer, and they have used that capital to craft a flawed gem of a record that highlights their strengths and weaknesses with copious amounts of red ink. High Violet oozes atmosphere, but moves at a snail’s pace. The Cousteau-esque “Terrible Love” hardly bursts out of the gate, and the subsequent “Sorrow” and “Anyone’s Ghost” (despite Bryan Devendorf’s locomotive drumming) lack the hooks to reel anybody in on first listen. The album begins to take shape on “Afraid of Everyone,” a slow-build midtempo rocker that expertly utilizes the Clogs’ (guitarist Bryce Dessner's other chamber pop band) prickly orchestrations, but it’s the punishing “Bloodbuzz Ohio” that serves as High Violet's centerpiece. Built on a foundation that fuses together TV on the Radio's “Halfway Home” and Arcade Fire's “No Cars Go,” its refrain of “I still owe money to the money, to the money I owe” seems both relevant and nostalgic, resulting in a highway anthem that feels like the anti-“Born to Run.” Other standout cuts like “Conversation 16,” “England," and the darkly funny/oddly beautiful closer, “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” trumpet Violet’s second-half supremacy, but even they tremble beneath the "Bloodbuzz" intoxication. Muscular, miserable, mighty, and meandering, High Violet aims for the seats, but only hits about half of them. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2005 | Beggars Banquet

The National may sound like a garage band turned down, but there's as much primal energy lurking behind Alligator as in any mop-topped group of city kids with bloodstained Danelectros in a dusty warehouse. While Matt Berninger's lyrics and conversational delivery rely heavily on the kind of literate self-absorption that fuels so much of the indie rock scene today, he never comes off as preachy or unaware that the world would manage just fine without him; rather, he uses metaphor and humor as bullet points for a profound sense of displacement and anger. Out-of-the-blue statements like "f*ck me and make me a drink," from the brooding but lovely "Karen," are effective because the listener is brought into the story slowly, almost amiably, before being led to the plank. Berninger's wry, filthy, and often eloquently sad tales of materialism, sex, and loneliness are augmented by the stellar duel-sibling attack of Aaron Dessner (guitar) and Bryce Dessner (guitar) and Scott Devendorf (guitar/bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums), who flesh out each track with so many little creative flourishes that it takes a few listens to break them down into palatable portions. There are upbeat moments found within -- "Lit Up" and "Looking for Astronauts" -- but for the most part the National are content with playing the genial fatalists, and while "All the Wine" seems designed to serve as the record's desolate backbone, "Baby, We'll Be Fine," with its quick changes, lush orchestration, and winsome refrain of "I'm so sorry for everything" is, despite an elegiac delivery, Alligator's loneliest track, and like each part of this fine collection of city-weary poetry, it's as brief as it is affecting. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Pop/Rock - Released May 10, 2010 | 4AD

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 malevolence 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. The National's profile rose considerably after 2007’s critically acclaimed The Boxer, and they have used that capital to craft a flawed gem of a record that highlights their strengths and weaknesses with copious amounts of red ink. High Violet oozes atmosphere, but moves at a snail’s pace. The Cousteau-esque “Terrible Love” hardly bursts out of the gate, and the subsequent “Sorrow” and “Anyone’s Ghost” (despite Bryan Devendorf’s locomotive drumming) lack the hooks to reel anybody in on first listen. The album begins to take shape on “Afraid of Everyone,” a slow-build midtempo rocker that expertly utilizes the Clogs’ (guitarist Bryce Dessner's other chamber pop band) prickly orchestrations, but it’s the punishing “Bloodbuzz Ohio” that serves as High Violet's centerpiece. Built on a foundation that fuses together TV on the Radio's “Halfway Home” and Arcade Fire's “No Cars Go,” its refrain of “I still owe money to the money, to the money I owe” seems both relevant and nostalgic, resulting in a highway anthem that feels like the anti-“Born to Run.” Other standout cuts like “Conversation 16,” “England," and the darkly funny/oddly beautiful closer, “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” trumpet Violet’s second-half supremacy, but even they tremble beneath the "Bloodbuzz" intoxication. Muscular, miserable, mighty, and meandering, High Violet aims for the seats, but only hits about half of them. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 8, 2017 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 20, 2004 | Brassland

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Pop/Rock - Released May 19, 2008 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2013 | 4AD

Upon first spin, Trouble Will Find Me, the warm, wistful, and weary sixth long-player from the National, sounds a lot like 2010's warm, wistful, and weary High Violet, but where the former was built on a foundation of suburban despondency and casual, middle class self-destruction (and skillfully juggled melodrama and dark comedy), the latter feels mired in regret, seeking refuge in the arms of old friends and lost lovers, sounding for all the world like a single cube of ice lazily swirling about a recently drained tumbler of single malt scotch, a notion best intoned on early album standout "Demons," which casually announces "I am secretly in love with everyone I grew up with." Like nausea, nostalgia can arrive in waves, and Trouble Will Find Me's best moments -- the propulsive "Don't Swallow the Cap" and the one-two sucker punch of pre-set closers "Humiliation" and "Pink Rabbits" -- find Matt Berninger and his laconic baritone nervously pacing the deck of a sinking ship while simultaneously trying to find his sea legs as his bandmates constantly pull the rug out from under him with familiar rhythms and melodies that hide countless trap doors. However, it's that very familiarity that fuels the ire of many of the band's detractors, especially those who consider them to be a slightly creepier, American Coldplay, and while there is definitely an intangible, Mad Men-esque sense of unease that permeates Trouble Will Find Me, one could hardly use the words dangerous or forward-thinking when dissecting its myriad parts. That said, this is the band that performed a chilling rendition of the George R.R. Martin-penned "Rains of Castamere" over the closing credits of the season two finale of Game of Thrones. For better or for worse, they perfected their sound the last time around, so it’s hard to fault them for sticking so close to the fire, especially on such a snowy night. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 27, 2013 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2014 | 4AD

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Pop/Rock - Released April 30, 2007 | Beggars Banquet

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Pop/Rock - Released May 2, 2010 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 28, 2005 | Beggars Banquet

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Pop/Rock - Released November 5, 2007 | Beggars Banquet

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The National in the magazine