Review: Seven albums in, The National have solidified their songwriting with confident nuance, and 'Sleep Well Beast' is another milestone on this consistent band's upward curve. Standout ballad 'Carin at the Liquor Store' waltzes and wanders through melancholic nostalgia and glimmers of hope, exemplifying the sound and storytelling that The National are so renowned and respected for. Small cracks in the concrete gloom appear with the more energetic and optimistic tracks, allowing just enough light in for this masterfully executed album to encourage repeat listens, which will in turn, and as always, provide ample rewards.
Review: It's fair to say that when The National release an album the Cincinnati originating supergroup garner the same type of attention that Radiohead once drew. With some futuristic production techniques creeping its way into the band's engineered sound, a new expressionism in the group's sound on "I Am Easy To Find" makes its way into the open, if only subtly. With the opening passages of "You Had Your Soul With You" sounding something like Battles' "Atlas", the music breaks down into a fanfare of traditional yet supercharged folk instrumentations; with drums, spoken word, strings in all their various forms, and the familiar smokey drawl of Matt Berninger's voice sitting snugly on top of subtle drum machines and synthesisers. Super ballads and sincerity.
Review: A decade has passed since The National made their commercial breakthrough with fifth album, "High Violet", a set which many critics still believe is the Ohio-based band's finest full-length to date. To celebrate the anniversary, the band's label 4AD has decided to press it on vinyl for the very first time, packaging the marbled purple and white vinyl in a triple-gatefold sleeve. It's an awesome package, but what will excite fans most is the third slab of wax. This features a mixture of rare, hard-to-find and previously unreleased material from the period, including a trio of live recordings, the near-mythical "Wake Up Your Saints" and "Walk Off", and a fine alternate mix of "Terrible Love".