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Album Review: The National – High Violet

By on Friday, 7th May 2010 at 12:00 pm

The word perfect has been redefined, and it comes in the form of “High Violet.” Don’t worry, it will all make sense once you listen to The National’s latest album. First things first, though. If you’re a casual fan of the band, having only heard their highly acclaimed “Boxer” album released three years ago, fear not. The group has picked up where they gloriously left off.

The ambiguity is richer, the themes of loneliness and confusion still remain, as do thick layers of heavy instrumentation and spine tingling emotions. Take opening track, “Terrible Love”, for example. The song kicks off with an anthemic tones that are more than a little reminiscent of very early U2 riffs. Similar to “Fake Empire” on the band’s last album, the song holds the right amount of welcoming power to pull the listener into the entire LP.

Produced by the talented Peter Katis, many of the tracks are fittingly weighed down with spectacular layers of sounds, but the thing is that those multi-layers are less than obvious upon first listen of the album. You really have to cram your headphones down your ear to try to make sense of the rather brilliant noises rising above it all. It would be wiser to just appreciate the hard work of the band who created this masterpiece, though.

Still another more obvious subject that baritone singer Matt Berninger frequently references to is that of anxiety. In fact, dizzy apprehensions are dripping through in most songs. If track titles like “Runaway” and ‘Everyone’s Ghost” don’t signal a sense of unease, then well maybe lyrics such as, “With my kid on my shoulders I try not to hurt anyone I like…I don’t have the drugs to sort it out”, pervade an overwhelming feeling of nervousness on “Afraid of Everyone.”

What makes the album even more beautiful are the soaring crescendos heard in songs such as the five minute, climax building “England”, where a gentle piano riff opens the song and a sublime, rockier, blast of strings finishes it off.

Oh, and that well-rehearsed adage of “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, could certainly be applied to album standout “Lemonhead”, a poppy narrative backed by the pulsing of strings and lovely spoken rhythms of a muttering Berninger. As a side note, the song apparently went through different 80 takes! The band ultimately stuck with the original version in the end.

It would be natural to spill the beans with a lot more specifics and details of “High Violet”, as it’s simply a great piece of work that is too easy to gush about. That would spoil the many great surprises within, however. So follow the words of a simpleton and check out this album. If you’re not a fan of the band yet, you soon will be.

The National’s High Violet is out on Monday – you can pre-order it from Amazon.


MP3 of the Day #130: The National

By on Friday, 4th December 2009 at 10:00 am

This one isn’t a new track unfortunately, but I plain and simply love it, one of my favourites of 2007. The National‘s Fake Empire is dark, brooding, and a fitting dose of melancholy for what I’m feeling at the moment. The lead single from their 2007 smash The Boxer, it’s debatable what your Fake Empire is (the USA? the honeymoon period of a relationship?), but they provide lyrics Morrissey would love and music that few bands can maintain the quality of.

I’m super excited for their return in 2010, and you should be too.

MP3: The National – Fake Empire


Daily Roundup: Sunday 7th September 2008

By on Sunday, 7th September 2008 at 8:13 pm

So, we’ve been back from Hydro Connect for almost a week, and have just finished our coverage of this year’s event. Wander on over to have a look if you want to have a look at the pictures and read what we thought, why not wander on over to our review and have a look through our pictures and stuff. Unfortunately though since getting back down south we’ve had a pretty hectic week, working close to 40 hours, which has meant TGTF has been pushed to the side as we focus on work.

I was sent some PR for a new boy-band, going by the name of Avenue earlier this week. Amazingly catchy, they’re like a McFly / Blue / Take That crossover act, bit more dancy but a pretty darned good new guilty-pleasure band. I wouldn’t be suprised if they end up doing arena tours this time next year, knowing that they have the same people behind them as The Feeling, Sugababes and Mika all do. Their debut single, Last Goodbye is out now, so when you’ve had enough of reading about Bloc Party, The National, Idlewild and Ben Folds over here why not check them out?

Stumbled across a great small blog earlier this week, Music To Die For, which features some interesting “best of” lists, including the 50 top tunes from Scotland, many of the tunes of which coincidentally made up our soundtrack to last weekend in Scotland.

For those of you wanting some visual stuff, then why not check out Delays doing Friends are False (their new single) as a session for Yahoo, or Friendly Fires’ video for Jump in the Pool, complete with syncronised swimmers. Finally, if you’re American (or just have a tiny interest in US politics), then why not check out this advert Barack Obama put out, soundtracked by The National’s Fake Empire.


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.

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