Where Brooklyn At? The National Return!

“This is what it looked like in our heads 10 years ago. In our brains. It was a little darker and there were girls in the front, but this is it. Look at that sunset, beautiful. Make a wish”.

Matt Berninger, The National.

The comments were directed to the thousands that descended on the Other Stage during dust-fest that was Glastonbury 2010 and before, famous baritone, Berninger jumped into the crowd during an anarchic rendition of indie-rock anthem ‘Mr. November’. I bowed my beetroot coloured head and made my desires known. It was for his dream to take full effect. Not to fuck us over. In my brain, the integrity of the band, Cincinnati boys but very much a product of their time living in New York, has never been in question. Fans, gained from the monumental ‘High Violet’ are welcome on board this miserablist train. It travels to Benignity stopping at all the major stations – Anxiety, Animosity, Disappointment and Malevolence. The band haven’t released anything yet and the answering of my prayers rides on their next studio release. The National have been grateful for this ballooning of support but their next release scheduled for 2013 will answer whether their experiences of an insatiable life has changed since the Johnny-come-latelys came on board.

High Violet sent the band away from the tag of from a cult American-college heroes, where the best they could manage is a co-headline tour with soon-to-be-doomed fellow Brooklynites ‘Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’. Producing everything on their own meticulous terms they became NME/Radio1/Q/Uncut poster boys amidst their backing of a American president to the White House.

A few days after the quintet’s curation of All Tomorrow Parties in Sussex’s Camber Sands Holiday Park, the nightmare situation I envisaged raised its ugly head. Holy God! Fuck me with Jesus Harold Christ’s rusty spanner he uses for his 2nd hand bike on his commute from Bethlehem to preach to the local Pentecostal church! They are playing ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ in fucking ‘Schuh’. On a play list called ‘Hipster International’. Authored by Napster pioneer Sean Parker. A ‘yoof’ is singing along – he has brand new Adidas and is buying new Nike Airs. Where did it all go wrong? HMV going bust?! Spotify?! ITunes?! Napster?! MTV?! When Mitsubishi produced reel-to-reel decks instead of ecstasy tablets?! The advent of counter-culture?! Dylan going electric? Beatlemania?! I panicked, only slightly.

That they have been picked up by this new breed of clientèle is not surprising, really. There are four or five tunes on ‘Violet’ that are resolutely catchy. One is even called ‘England’ although this alone doesn’t explain their popularity across the Atlantic. I’m often left wondering what actually does. Perhaps maybe the reason I got into them as ‘Alligator’ was released, a fan when ‘Boxer’ came out, a devotee after ‘Violet’ and in love when I delved into the back catalogue.The human touch with all its fallibilities. The optimism that is stumbled upon on further inspection. Classic songs that endure through transcendence of passing trends. Political moments. The building of tension and subsequent releases of it. The gang mentality in the band and the two pairs of brothers, backing Matt, that function so well as a unit.

So lets go back to that curation of All Tomorrow Parties under the watchful eyes of the bluecoats in December 2012 – much as I would like to have been there, I wasn’t. On good authority I have been informed three new songs were revealed – ostensibly a ‘sneak preview’ of the release scheduled in 2013. They have been posted online and National die-hards were quick to give their opinion. From a personal point of view – my initial reaction was extremely positive as I delighted in their stage intro, – the title track on Neil Young’s 1974 classic “On the Beach”.

They opened their set with one of the new songs ‘Lola’. Its lovely. Starting off modestly it builds to as grand a sound as they have ever been responsible for. Not much in discernible wording can be deduced except the crying of “You should know me better than that”. Apt for such a misunderstood figure as Berninger. Its got the screeching-axe solo and the mournful horns. This going to sound cracking when its studio version is released. As it stands this one is definitely an early contender for first single.

‘Prime’ picks up the pace with several drum rolls between each chime of the guitar. it’s the natural successor to the bulk of the content we were treated to on ‘Boxer’, even a bit angrier at that, with inherent self-destruction looming within the sound. Lyrically its probably the strongest of the new stuff with a barrage of memorable lines in much the same vein as their previous works with references containing references to God, apathy/hatred, prescribed medication and desperation.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *