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The National|First Two Pages of Frankenstein

First Two Pages of Frankenstein

The National

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Over nine albums, The National have grown wilder in their experimentation. But the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati band proves on First Two Pages of Frankenstein that almost no one else does Midwest desolation this well—still. It's there in the plaintive but sweetly hopeful piano line that carries "Once Upon a Poolside" and underscores Matt Berninger's troubled lines: "I can't keep talking/ I can't stop shaking/ I can't keep track of everything I'm taking." (Bonus points for bringing in fellow Midwestern native Sufjan Stevens for ethereal backing vocals.) There's a spareness, too, in the excellent "Eucalyptus," which poses questions about who walks away with what when a relationship ends: ceiling fans, rainbow eucalyptus, ornaments ..."What about the undeveloped cameras?/ Maybe we should bury those ... What about the Cowboy Junkies?/ What about the Afghan Whigs?" And yet the song takes on an early-U2 level of drama with a build of moody, striking guitar and tumbling drums. "Tropic Morning News," meanwhile, surprises in a different way: Starting with a perfectly chilled Joy Division beat, the guitars spring to life and the bridge takes off and up. This is the song that is said to have saved the record, after Berninger was in a dry spell. It was, he has said, "the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end" for the band. But, with his wife Carin Besser's help on the words, he pulled through—a feeling that seems to be reflected in the lyrics: "I was so distracted then/ I didn't have it straight in my head/ I didn't have my face on yet, or the role, or the feel/ Of where I was going with it all ... There's nothing stopping me now/ From saying all the painful parts out loud." Much has been made of the band's collaboration with Taylor Swift, "The Alcott,” and for good reason. As a producer, National guitarist and songwriter Aaron Dessner knows how to pull a genuine maturity out of Swift. Here she holds her own against Berninger's deep masculinity and the beating heart of percussion. Unlike with other guests on ... Frankenstein, this is a proper duet, and a pretty perfect addition to the Swift oeuvre, as she delivers lines like "Shred my evening gown/ Read my sentence out loud/ Because I brought this curse on our house." Phoebe Bridgers, meanwhile, shows up on "This Isn't Helping" and "Your Mind Is Not Your Friend," but her harmonies are more like a spoonful of sugar atop Berninger's roughness, rather than an equal match.The record ends with “Send for Me” and Berninger promising to answer any SOS: "If you're ever sitting at the airport/ And you don't want to leave ... If you're ever at a glass-top table, selling your ideas/ To swivel-chair underlings who just don't get it … Send for me/ Whenever, where ever/ Send for me/ I'll come and get ya." In other words: They’re not done yet. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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First Two Pages of Frankenstein

The National

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1
Once Upon A Poolside (feat. Sufjan Stevens)
00:03:36

Sufjan Stevens, Engineer, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Engineer - Gillon Cameron, StudioMusician - Marianne Haynes, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Composer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Fiona Cruickshank, Engineer - Ashok Klouda, StudioMusician - Galya Bisengalieva, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Laura Moody, StudioMusician - Hazel Correa, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Raja Halder, StudioMusician - Charis Jenson, StudioMusician - Carin Besser, ComposerLyricist - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Laura Beck, Engineer - Venetia Jollands, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Nicole Crespo O'Donoghue, StudioMusician - MUSIC & MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., MusicPublisher - Guy Button, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Ellie Consta, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Rebecca Burden, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

2
Eucalyptus
00:04:24

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Peter Katis, Engineer - Aaron Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Adam Armstrong, Engineer - Sean O'Brien, Engineer - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, Composer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioMusician - Ben Lanz, StudioMusician - Chad Wahlbrink, Engineer - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Curt Kiser, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Matt Latchaw, Engineer - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Bryce Dessner Songs (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

3
New Order T-Shirt
00:04:56

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Mina Tindle, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - James McAlister, Engineer, StudioMusician - Sean O'Brien, Engineer - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryan Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

4
This Isn't Helping (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
00:04:04

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Tony Berg, Engineer - Jeremy Murphy, Engineer - Juan González, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Sean O'Brien, Engineer - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Phoebe Bridgers, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Miles Brett, StudioMusician - Chad Wahlbrink, Engineer - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Max Ruisi, StudioMusician - Anna de Bruin, StudioMusician - Mandhira De Saram, StudioMusician - Daisy Vatalaro, StudioMusician - Will Maclellan, Engineer - Liam Hebb, Engineer - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Louise McMonagle, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Alexandra Caldon, StudioMusician - Clare Kennington, StudioMusician - Julian Azkoul, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Agata Darashkaite, StudioMusician - Matt Latchaw, Engineer - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Minn Majoe, StudioMusician - Zahra Benyounes, StudioMusician - Akiko Ishikawa, StudioMusician - Anna Osvyanikova, StudioMusician

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

5
Tropic Morning News
00:05:09

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Andi Toma, Engineer, StudioMusician - Gillon Cameron, StudioMusician - Marianne Haynes, StudioMusician - Lisa Hannigan, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Jan St. Werner, Engineer, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Fiona Cruickshank, Engineer - Ashok Klouda, StudioMusician - Adam Armstrong, Engineer - Galya Bisengalieva, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - Adam Sliwinski, StudioMusician - Jason Treuting, StudioMusician - Josh Quillen, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Laura Moody, StudioMusician - David Chalmin, Engineer - Hazel Correa, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Raja Halder, StudioMusician - Charis Jenson, StudioMusician - Carin Besser, ComposerLyricist - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Laura Beck, Engineer - Venetia Jollands, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Nicole Crespo O'Donoghue, StudioMusician - Matt Poirier, Engineer - MUSIC & MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., MusicPublisher - Guy Button, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Eric Cha-Beach, StudioMusician - Ellie Consta, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Rebecca Burden, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

6
Alien
00:04:07

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Andi Toma, Engineer, StudioMusician - Gillon Cameron, StudioMusician - Marianne Haynes, StudioMusician - Jan St. Werner, Engineer, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Fiona Cruickshank, Engineer - Ashok Klouda, StudioMusician - Galya Bisengalieva, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, Composer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Laura Moody, StudioMusician - Hazel Correa, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Raja Halder, StudioMusician - Charis Jenson, StudioMusician - Carin Besser, ComposerLyricist - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Laura Beck, Engineer - Venetia Jollands, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Nicole Crespo O'Donoghue, StudioMusician - MUSIC & MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., MusicPublisher - Guy Button, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Ellie Consta, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Rebecca Burden, StudioMusician - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Bryce Dessner Songs (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

7
The Alcott (feat. Taylor Swift)
00:04:27

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Jeremy Murphy, Engineer - Juan González, StudioMusician - Taylor Swift, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - Universal Music Publishing Group, MusicPublisher - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Sean O'Brien, Engineer - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Miles Brett, StudioMusician - Chad Wahlbrink, Engineer - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Max Ruisi, StudioMusician - Anna de Bruin, StudioMusician - Mandhira De Saram, StudioMusician - Daisy Vatalaro, StudioMusician - Curt Kiser, StudioMusician - Liam Hebb, Engineer - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Louise McMonagle, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Alexandra Caldon, StudioMusician - Jake Merritt, Engineer - Clare Kennington, StudioMusician - Julian Azkoul, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Agata Darashkaite, StudioMusician - Matt Latchaw, Engineer - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Minn Majoe, StudioMusician - Zahra Benyounes, StudioMusician - Akiko Ishikawa, StudioMusician - Anna Osvyanikova, StudioMusician - Songs Of Universal Inc., Tasrm Publishing (BMI), MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

8
Grease In Your Hair
00:03:57

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Peter Katis, Engineer - Gillon Cameron, StudioMusician - Marianne Haynes, StudioMusician - Lisa Hannigan, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Fiona Cruickshank, Engineer - Ashok Klouda, StudioMusician - Adam Armstrong, Engineer - Galya Bisengalieva, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Ben Rice, Engineer - Laura Moody, StudioMusician - David Chalmin, Engineer - Hazel Correa, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Raja Halder, StudioMusician - Charis Jenson, StudioMusician - Carin Besser, ComposerLyricist - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Laura Beck, Engineer - Venetia Jollands, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Nicole Crespo O'Donoghue, StudioMusician - MUSIC & MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., MusicPublisher - Guy Button, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Ellie Consta, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Rebecca Burden, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

9
Ice Machines
00:04:16

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Andi Toma, Engineer, StudioMusician - Gillon Cameron, StudioMusician - Marianne Haynes, StudioMusician - Lisa Hannigan, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Jan St. Werner, Engineer, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Fiona Cruickshank, Engineer - Ashok Klouda, StudioMusician - Galya Bisengalieva, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, Composer, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, AssociatedPerformer, StudioMusician - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Laura Moody, StudioMusician - David Chalmin, Engineer - Hazel Correa, StudioMusician - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Raja Halder, StudioMusician - Charis Jenson, StudioMusician - Carin Besser, ComposerLyricist - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Laura Beck, Engineer - Venetia Jollands, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Nicole Crespo O'Donoghue, StudioMusician - MUSIC & MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., MusicPublisher - Guy Button, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Ellie Consta, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Rebecca Burden, StudioMusician - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Bryce Dessner Songs (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

10
Your Mind Is Not Your Friend (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
00:04:24

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Andi Toma, Engineer, StudioMusician - Tony Berg, Engineer - Jeremy Murphy, Engineer - Juan González, StudioMusician - Jan St. Werner, Engineer, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Composer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, StudioMusician - Sean O'Brien, Engineer - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryan Devendorf, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioMusician - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Phoebe Bridgers, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Miles Brett, StudioMusician - Chad Wahlbrink, Engineer - Jonathan Low, Engineer - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Max Ruisi, StudioMusician - Anna de Bruin, StudioMusician - Mandhira De Saram, StudioMusician - Daisy Vatalaro, StudioMusician - Curt Kiser, StudioMusician - Will Maclellan, Engineer - Liam Hebb, Engineer - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Louise McMonagle, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Alexandra Caldon, StudioMusician - Clare Kennington, StudioMusician - Julian Azkoul, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Agata Darashkaite, StudioMusician - Matt Latchaw, Engineer - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Minn Majoe, StudioMusician - Zahra Benyounes, StudioMusician - Akiko Ishikawa, StudioMusician - Anna Osvyanikova, StudioMusician

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

11
Send For Me
00:04:14

Greg Calbi, Engineer - Jeremy Murphy, Engineer - Juan González, StudioMusician - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Engineer, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - The National, Producer, MainArtist - Kirsty Mangan, StudioMusician - Thomas Bartlett, Engineer, StudioMusician - Mina Tindle, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer - Peteris Sokolovskis, StudioMusician - Robert Ames, Conductor - Jonny Byers, StudioMusician - James McAlister, Engineer, Programmer, StudioMusician - Matt Berninger, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Bryan Devendorf, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Dessner, AssociatedPerformer - Sergio Serra, StudioMusician - Downtown Music Publishing, MusicPublisher - Kyle Resnick, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioMusician - Ben Lanz, Engineer, StudioMusician - Miles Brett, StudioMusician - Bella Blasko, Engineer - Max Ruisi, StudioMusician - Anna de Bruin, StudioMusician - Mandhira De Saram, StudioMusician - Daisy Vatalaro, StudioMusician - Liam Hebb, Engineer - Radhika de Saram, StudioMusician - Louise McMonagle, StudioMusician - CMRRA, MusicPublisher - Alexandra Caldon, StudioMusician - Clare Kennington, StudioMusician - Julian Azkoul, StudioMusician - Claire Hazelton, StudioMusician - Agata Darashkaite, StudioMusician - Mathew Bain, StudioMusician - Mimi Reese Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Matthew Berninger Songs, ASCAP, MusicPublisher - Minn Majoe, StudioMusician - Zahra Benyounes, StudioMusician - Akiko Ishikawa, StudioMusician - Anna Osvyanikova, StudioMusician

2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd 2023 The National under exclusive license to 4AD Ltd

Resenha do Álbum

Over nine albums, The National have grown wilder in their experimentation. But the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati band proves on First Two Pages of Frankenstein that almost no one else does Midwest desolation this well—still. It's there in the plaintive but sweetly hopeful piano line that carries "Once Upon a Poolside" and underscores Matt Berninger's troubled lines: "I can't keep talking/ I can't stop shaking/ I can't keep track of everything I'm taking." (Bonus points for bringing in fellow Midwestern native Sufjan Stevens for ethereal backing vocals.) There's a spareness, too, in the excellent "Eucalyptus," which poses questions about who walks away with what when a relationship ends: ceiling fans, rainbow eucalyptus, ornaments ..."What about the undeveloped cameras?/ Maybe we should bury those ... What about the Cowboy Junkies?/ What about the Afghan Whigs?" And yet the song takes on an early-U2 level of drama with a build of moody, striking guitar and tumbling drums. "Tropic Morning News," meanwhile, surprises in a different way: Starting with a perfectly chilled Joy Division beat, the guitars spring to life and the bridge takes off and up. This is the song that is said to have saved the record, after Berninger was in a dry spell. It was, he has said, "the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end" for the band. But, with his wife Carin Besser's help on the words, he pulled through—a feeling that seems to be reflected in the lyrics: "I was so distracted then/ I didn't have it straight in my head/ I didn't have my face on yet, or the role, or the feel/ Of where I was going with it all ... There's nothing stopping me now/ From saying all the painful parts out loud." Much has been made of the band's collaboration with Taylor Swift, "The Alcott,” and for good reason. As a producer, National guitarist and songwriter Aaron Dessner knows how to pull a genuine maturity out of Swift. Here she holds her own against Berninger's deep masculinity and the beating heart of percussion. Unlike with other guests on ... Frankenstein, this is a proper duet, and a pretty perfect addition to the Swift oeuvre, as she delivers lines like "Shred my evening gown/ Read my sentence out loud/ Because I brought this curse on our house." Phoebe Bridgers, meanwhile, shows up on "This Isn't Helping" and "Your Mind Is Not Your Friend," but her harmonies are more like a spoonful of sugar atop Berninger's roughness, rather than an equal match.The record ends with “Send for Me” and Berninger promising to answer any SOS: "If you're ever sitting at the airport/ And you don't want to leave ... If you're ever at a glass-top table, selling your ideas/ To swivel-chair underlings who just don't get it … Send for me/ Whenever, where ever/ Send for me/ I'll come and get ya." In other words: They’re not done yet. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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