High Violet – The National – Album Review

So it was nice to have a good listen to the entire album today. If you want to hear it, it’s streaming on the New York Time site here (songs are listed in the preview bar down the left side of the article):

Update May 5, 2010: Now streaming on National public Radio (NPR)…use this link:


So I’ll list all the tracks here and give a few thoughts. I’ll follow-up with some overall impressions at the end.

Terrible Love:
I reviewed this song previously from a live performance. The album version is brilliant. You can read about it here:

I really like this mid-tempo effort. Some cool, quirky keyboards.
Lyrical bit: “I don’t want to get over you”
You can guess what the song is about!

Anyone’s Ghost:
Drum driven and atmospheric!
Lyrical bit: “Go out at night with headphones on. Again.”
A lot of interesting word play with a brilliant vocal string ahead of the last chorus. Loved the idea of haunting his love but not wanting to!

Little Faith:
Song starts off with a powerful vocal and almost redundant music. As it goes along the music builds behind in a signature National song build.
Lyrical bits: “Stuck in New York and the rain’s coming down”,
“Don’t be bitter, I know how you think”, “Play nuns versus priests until somebody cries”
When I saw the title I asked myself ‘God or a little girl’? Yes!

Afraid of Everyone:
A beautifully simple beat with some quirky guitar!
Lyrical bit: “With my kid on my shoulder, I try not to hurt anyone I like. I don’t have the drugs to try and sort it out”
A wonderfully strange song with what I interpret as a dad’s fear for his family. But weird enough to be taken in many ways!

Bloodbuzz Ohio:
Another I have reviewed already. You can read about it here:

I really love the drums at the beginning of this one.
Lyrical bits: “I’m too tired to drive anywhere anyway. Do you care if I stay”, “You and your sister live in a lemonworld. I want to sit in and die”
A typically strange National way of looking at the rosy world of kids. The attraction of this band is often the twisted lyrical roads they follow – reminds of The Smiths in many ways.

Love the acoustic sound off the top! Bit of a ballad.
Lyrical bit: “There’s no saving anything. Now we’re swallowing the shine of the sun”
Basically saying to not be afraid to stay. Don’t let the fear others present drive you away. I see this as pure political commentary.

Conversation 16:
Absolutely fantastic beat to this one!
Lyrical bit: “I figured out what we’re missing. Tell you miserable things after you are asleep”
An obvious relationship song but strange enough to be interesting and convoluted enough to make its meaning liquid.

I like the orchestral elements added to this.
Lyrical bit: “Someone send a runner for the feeling I lost today”
A small beauty of a song about two people oceans apart.

Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks:
This one sounds like a funeral dirge.
Lyrical bit: “I’ll explain everything to the geeks. All the very best of us string ourselves up for this”
Sounds like one of those initiation rituals gone bad. Rich kids kills geek by accident (or not). Guilt driven responses to the events. Wonderful title for a great song!

Overall impression

Okay, so that’s all of it! My first ‘must have’ album for 2010. There are no duds on this one. We’ve got a great mix of typically National elements. Great music, interesting, bordering on bizarre lyrics and storytelling by one of the great voices in music today. If you don’t get this band, keep trying. It pays off in so many ways!

This entry was posted in General Commentary, Music, Song Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to High Violet – The National – Album Review

  1. larrylootsteen says:

    I just tried the link and it worked. The first time I went to the article it took almost 5 minutes for the streaming to appear. You may want to try again…just note the songs are down the left side of the article about half way down the page.

  2. Darrell Childress says:

    Apparently, they’ve taken down the streaming. I even Googled it and it said that the NY Times was streaming it today, but no link. Was looking forward to hearing what these guys sound like.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s