The National - High Violet

2010-05-16 | |

Ohio seems to be one of those lesser-known musical centres. It's given us Trent Reznor, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Marilyn Manson, and to a lesser extent Dave Grohl. Still, amongst all that acoustic chaff, there's got to be something worth listening to, right? Well, that's where The National come in. The all-American sextet have had 3 years of projects since their last full album, Boxer, in 2007, and now, they're back on top form.

Everyone could immediately switch off after the first track on High Violet. I'm sure you'd all like to. Terrible Love is indeed that: terrible. It's slightly off-kilter when taken in with the rest of the album. It's a jarring start. It's something I don't like. However, once Sorrow kicks in, that's when the album becomes what it is: it's a contemplation; it's a message; it's an album that a lot of rock bands are doing these days - the meaningful one before they fade into obscurity again.

This is coming across all wrong, right, readers? The intro says they're on top form, but I've just said they're going to fade into obscurity. Well, that's just it. It's an album that wins you over, and that's what I want to do in this: You need to be won over by it. No amount of critique could tell you how good it is, because frankly every critic, myself included, is dry-humping the hell out of this. I've read the reviews; I've seen the scores; I didn't believe.

What this album manages to do is envelop you in a sense of total tranquility. Think what Coldplay tried to do with Viva la Vida, but better. This isn't quite rock and roll, but, it's one of those albums that you shouldn't let pass you by. There's the urge to call it indie pop; there's the urge to compare it to a more peaceful Editors, Joy Division or other band with a sonorous soloist up front. Of course, it is neither one nor the other of these. It could be compared to a silk robe: simple on the surface, but intricate beneath. Yet, it's that something which defies all comparison which makes it a perfect soundtrack.

It could be raining outside, and you could be inside with a hot beverage; it could be a rare, sunny day, and you could be reading Dostoevsky; either way, this would be the soundtrack to it all. It doesn't ask to be played loudly; it doesn't ask for attention like all others of the same genre, trying to hold you in their complex riffs, with their overdone everything. None of that here. Simplicity is the name of the game. That's why you should listen.

Overall: 8/10 - A bit of a rocky start, but, once it gets flowing it lives up to the hype, if not surpasses it.

Top Track: England

blog comments powered by Disqus