Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and show and festival cancellations,
no new content has been added here since February 2020.
Read more about this here. | April 2019 update
To connect with us, visit us on Facebook and Twitter.
SXSW 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Video of the Moment #2772: The National

By on Monday, 22nd January 2018 at 6:00 pm

The National released their seventh album ‘Sleep Well Beast’ last September. You can read Carrie’s review of it through here. To mark the infamous anniversary of the inauguration of President Trump this time last year, Matt Berninger and co. have released a politically-themed video for ‘Walk It Back’. A satire of the pomp and circumstance of the American government seems apropos while us in DC wait for a resolution to the shutdown of the main employer of this area. ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is available now from 4AD. For more here on TGTF on The National, follow this link.


Album Review: The National – Sleep Well Beast

By on Friday, 1st September 2017 at 1:00 pm

Sleep Well Beast coverAmerican indie rock band The National are set to release their seventh studio album next week, following on the critical success of their 2013 LP ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. According to band member and producer Aaron Dessner, the new album has been in the works for most of the intervening four years. “We didn’t feel like rushing it,” Dessner says of the new album, titled ‘Sleep Well Beast’, which is in some ways the band’s most expansive record to date and in some ways their most poignantly intimate.

Though the band are geographically spread out over five different cities these days, they made a deliberate effort to come together periodically for the writing and recording of ‘Sleep Well Beast’. “When we all lived in Brooklyn we rarely did these kinds of week-long sessions” says bassist Scott Devendorf. “This time we got together for long stretches, just to mess around and experiment without deadlines or distractions.” The result is an eclectic sonic mix of synths and drum machines, prominent guitar solos and piano melodies, and composer/guitarist Bryce Dessner’s always graceful orchestral ornamentation.

Lyrically, vocalist and songwriter Matt Berninger describes the songs on ‘Sleep Well Beast’ as “trying to come clean about things you’d rather not” in the context of long-term relationships. He tries to make light of his heavy thematic material, saying “Some of it’s about marriage, some of it’s about my relationship with Aaron and the band, some of it’s about train tracks and dancing.” But it’s the romantic narrative, with lyrics co-written by Berninger’s wife Carin Besser, that ultimately dominates the album. From a listener’s perspective, it reads like a very public form of couples therapy, where neither party shies away from intense self-scrutiny or brutal cross-examination.

‘Nobody Else Will Be There’ opens the album slowly and tentatively, with Berninger’s rough vocals slurring over an introspective piano melody in the questioning lines “you said we’re not so tied together / what did you mean?” The musical arrangement is lingering and almost aimless, much like the couple in question, for whom Berninger sings “goodbyes always take us half an hour / can’t we just go home?”

By contrast, recent single ‘Day I Die’ is much more immediately striking and could easily be the album’s biggest radio hit. Berninger’s wry vocal delivery alludes to feelings of emotional distance before delivering the veiled threat, “young mothers love me / even ghosts of girlfriends call from Cleveland / they will meet me any time and anywhere”. The scansion of his lyrics creates a deliberately disconnected stream-of-consciousness effect that is amplified by the unrelenting drum rhythm and jarring guitar riffs punctuating the verses.

Berninger’s vocals are at their strongest in lead single ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’, whose lyrical undertones vacillate between personal and political in a stark reflection of current American society. He shifts from dark, ominous tones in the verse lines “maybe I listen more than you think / and I can tell that somebody sold you” to the higher, anguished pitch of the refrain “I can’t explain it any other, any other way”. Likewise, the musical arrangement here is clear and easily accessible, with a ringing keyboard melody and catchy guitar riffs anchoring the overall sound.

Those moments of clarity balance the murkiness of the album’s middle section. ‘Born to Beg’ wallows in a fog of co-dependence, as its classical piano underlay fights through a morass of synth sounds and computerised drum beats that function to keep the swell of emotion at arms length. ‘Turtleneck’ is harsh and jarring, almost maniacally sinister as Berninger intones “there’s something about her eyes / I think her roots are rotten / this must be the reason she wears her hair up in knots”.

Hollow drum machine and synth sounds underscore a pervasive feeling of emptiness in ‘Empire Line’, where Berninger’s wintery imagery creates a stark emotional analogy: “you’ve been sleeping for miles / so what did you see? / here the sky’s been falling, white flowers / and there’s ice in all the trees”. Bryce Dessner’s exquisite woodwind and brass embellishments on ‘Guilty Party’ are among the most purely beautiful moments on the album, accompanying the heartwrenching lyrics “another year gets away / another summer of love / I don’t know why I care / we miss it every summer”.

Piano ballad ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’ is stark and deliberately simple, its straightforward arrangement clearing the way for some deep soul-searching: “it’s gonna be different after tonight / you’re gonna see me in a different light / it’s a a foregone conclusion”. The softer, mellower sounds of ‘Dark Side of the Gym’ find Berninger crooning soothingly “I’m gonna keep you in love with me for a while”, ahead of the resolve and re-commitment in final eponymous track ‘Sleep Well Beast’.

‘Sleep Well Beast’, the album, squarely and unflinchingly focuses on the dark feelings and deep individual vulnerabilities that inevitably come into play over the course of a long-term relationship. Some of the tracks are sonically overwhelming, which was probably the intent given their lyrical content, and some of them stretch almost agonizingly thin. But the album overall is conceptually cohesive, combining complex, richly-textured musical ideas with an equally complex and multi-faceted expanse of emotions. The delicate brutality of ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is expertly conveyed by the high calibre of its songwriting and musical arrangements, which are nothing less than exactly what we’ve come to expect from The National, as their brilliant career progresses through its second decade.


The National’s seventh studio album ‘Sleep Well Beast’ will be released on the 8th of September on Beggars imprint 4AD. The band will play an already sold-out tour of Ireland and the UK in September; you can find all their upcoming live dates on their official Web site. TGTF’s complete previous coverage of The National is back through here.


Video of the Moment #2435: The National

By on Thursday, 31st August 2017 at 6:00 pm

I’ve been trying to avoid posting live performance videos in the Video of the Moment slot. That’s what the Live Gig Video slot is for, right? However, I’m going to make an exception for the new one from The National. Why? What they’re offering up, soundtracked by the song ‘Day I Die’, is a wee bit different than most of the live videos we see.

Directed by Casey Reas, it’s intended to be a visual compression of a day of touring, which as you might imagine should come across as pretty frenetic, to turn potentially 24 hours of footage into a presentation of 4 and a half minutes. Reas explains the process: “Graham MacIndoe captured eighteen time-lapse photo series during rehearsals at Le Centquatre in June 2017 in Paris. Hours of rehearsal are compressed into a few minutes. Over five thousand of these photographs were brought together to create the final video. I wrote custom software to collage multiple photographs together and to compile them into videos. A flickering color layer abstracted from broadcast television signals augments the black and white footage. The images are played back at 12fps, near the threshold of the persistence of vision.” The result looks like a cartoon but it’s not a cartoon, it’s something unique and different. Watch he video below. The National’s ‘seventh studio album ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is due for release in a week and a half, on the 8th of September, on 4AD. Our past coverage here on TGTF on The National is through here.


Single Review: The National – Carin at the Liquor Store

By on Monday, 14th August 2017 at 12:00 pm

American alt-rock icons The National have just released a third single from their upcoming album ‘Sleep Well Beast’, to follow ‘Guilty Party’ and edgy recent Billboard AAA #1 track ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’. The new single ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’ carries on with the lyrical theme of faltering romance explored in the first two tracks, but its music reflects a slightly different emotional angle.

The National are known for the subtle orchestral textures of their musical arrangements, and they appear to have kept with that idea on the new album, with graceful brass and wind melodies weaving their way through all three current tracks. While the unrelenting drum rhythm was at the forefront of the sound mix in ‘Guilty Party’ and the guitars reigned supreme in ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’, it’s the piano taking centre stage in ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’. As expected, the solo piano-vocal pairing creates a stark sense of intimacy, which prevails even as the arrangement grows dynamically through the course of the song.

Likewise, frontman Matt Berninger’s typically cryptic lyrics somehow feel intensely personal. The song’s female character shares her moniker with Berninger’s wife, editor and producer Carin Besser, and the odd details in his words ring true, regardless of whether or not they reflect real life. Berninger’s final addendum to the chorus lyrics (“it’s gonna be different after tonight / you’re gonna see me in a different light / it’s a foregone conclusion”) could be read as either conciliatory or threatening, especially voiced in his deep baritone, and its ultimate interpretation is anything but a “foregone conclusion” for the listener.


Just below, you can watch the kaleidoscopically obscure visual interpretation of ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’, directed by Casey Reas. The National’s seventh studio album ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is due for release on the 8th of September via 4AD. TGTF’s past coverage of The National is back through here.




Video of the Moment #1453: The National

By on Tuesday, 18th February 2014 at 6:00 pm

The National‘s latest video is for song ‘I Need My Girl’ and features monochrome couples of varying maturity and race dancing, posing and holding one another on what seems to be a rotating platform of some kind. Considering the lyrical content, the video’s simplicity does justice to it beautifully. Watch it below.



Video of the Moment #1207: The National

By on Thursday, 16th May 2013 at 6:00 pm

What happens when you stick the National in a small white room with their instruments and leave them alone? Presumably you get a scene like this video for ‘Sea of Love’. Watch the video below. Oh wait. I’ve just read that it’s playing homage to another video that the band found inspiring. How…unimaginative.

The band will release their next album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ this summer.



About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy

Keep TGTF online for years to come!
Donate here.