Matt Berninger released a new music video for his song, “Serpentine Prison,” the first single from his upcoming album. The National frontman will be releasing his first solo album, Serpentine Prison, on October 2 via Book Records.
“Serpentine Prison” features Berninger’s rich vocals, the song beginning with the static sound of waves and a slow acoustic medley, quiet drums and ringing chords joining his deep voice which lends a melancholy tone. Memphis artist Booker T. Jones produced the track, as well as all of the songs from the upcoming album.
“The song ‘Serpentine Prison’ was written in December 2018 about a week after recording The National’s I Am Easy to Find,” Berninger said in the video description. “For a long time I had been writing songs for movies and musicals and other projects where I needed to get inside someone else’s head and convey another person’s feelings. I liked doing that but I was ready to dig back into my own garbage and this was the first thing that came out.”
With lyrics such as, “I still crawl up to you every night/Do not forgive me I am a reptile,” and “I walk into walls and I lay awake/I don’t want to give it too much thought,” the song pulls on Berninger’s feelings of losing someone, wanting to stay close while simultaneously feeling it’s time to let go.
The music video, shot in black and white, begins with scenes from the ocean, a lone crow walking along the beach. Cutting to fingertips on a piano, The music video then shows footage from recording, Berninger standing in front of the microphone, his arm holding the wall as he leans against it. All of the artists sitting and smiling as they hang out in the studio between sessions, a dog joining them for company then show on the screen in between shots of recording, Jones leading the project as he directs each musician.
“The title is from a twisting sewer pipe that drains into the ocean near LAX,” Berninger’s video description said. “There’s a cage on the pipe to keep people from climbing out to sea. I worked on the song with Sean O’Brien and Harrison Whitford and recorded it about six months later with Booker T. Jones producing. It feels like an epilogue so I named the record after it and put it last.”
Berninger first announced the album last October, following the release of his track with Phoebe Bridges for the song, “Walking on a String,” to be featured in Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns: The Movie.”
The National were forced to postpone their recent tour in the wake of COVID-19, first canceling their shows in Japan, then their hometown festival in May. The band joined rapper Lil Dicky for the “Safe and Sound” virtual concert performed back in May. The National also released a triple LP for the 10th anniversary of their album, High Violet, last month, featuring an alternate version of their song “Terrible Love” and several live performances.
Photo credit: Sharon Alagna