Wed, May 12, 2010 (5:45 p.m.)
Brooding NYC indie-rockers The National set the creative bar high with 2007’s Boxer; the album was a velvet-lined snapshot of 20-something ennui, disillusionment and frustration. The band’s full-length follow-up, High Violet, is just as conflicted—and lovely.
- The National
- High Violet
- Beyond the Weekly
- The National, official site
Sophisticated song arrangements—sighing harmonies (“Afraid of Everyone”), gentle orchestras (“Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”) and muted horns (“Runaway”)—embellish the band’s trademark minor chords, inky basslines and creased guitars. Vocalist Matt Berninger’s stentorian murmur, imbued with the gravitas of an evening TV newscaster, has never sounded more piercing, whether on the stormy rocker “Bloodbuzz Ohio” or distressed orchestral tangle “Terrible Love.”
In other hands, the manicured Violet would be sterile. The National’s humanity keeps the midtempo songs from disappearing into their own thoughts.