High Violet, Low Crooning
Who even thinks it’d be remotely funny to spout nonsensical rants on why nothing can ever compare to The National’s 2007 release, Boxer? Who wants to even admit they haven’t heard of The National until Boxer? Ah, but many a hip liberal arts student can admit The National’s latest release High Violet is the logical answer to Boxer’s critical success.
The warbly, lo-fi intro of “Terrible Love” is quickly pulled together by Matt Berninger’s dronish Ian Curtis impression. The track serves up the ingredients in every perfect introductory piece: progressively building climax, cinematic structure, and enormous energy.
Tracks like “Anyone’s Ghost,” “Little Faith,” and “Afraid of Everyone” provide the Boxer-esque brand of pop that most can associate with drowsy/bored-singer-meets-cheery-band groups like The Smiths or Belle and Sebastian. Of course, that’s what makes these tracks that much more special.
Certain bands have albums that always have that one track named after a city, which after 20-25 plays makes the listener long for their childhood or college experience in said city, despite being born on the opposite side of the country. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is one of those tracks. From the opening jukebox-happy drumscape a la Jimmy Eat World, the song invokes memories only dreamed by the horribly lonely. Of course, Berninger’s voice seems a good million octaves deeper, pulling the listener even further down with him. Who needs Valium when you have indie rock?
By “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” listeners start to realize that High Violet seems to be the culmination of everything that made 2007-2010 simply enjoyable for rock n’ roll. Like Bon Iver’s multilayered, tear-drenched lullabies, Berninger’s brand of “melancholy for the melancholic” melodies seem appropriate for an album meant to close a season.