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Review: The National-High Violet by jason
May 13, 2010, 11:23 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: ,


The National-High Violet. 4AD, 2010.

As I said yesterday, I’ve been pretty excited about this release since I saw the announcement earlier this year. I really like the National. Love them, maybe. So yesterday, I made a special excursion from my quarantine.

So, was it worth it? I’ll say definitely, though my expectations were not entirely met.

See, what I really like about the National is there’s a certain amount of…class? Is that the word I’m looking for? I mean, they get loud, and they do swear, but they sound like they would be equally at home in an expensive nightclub or a dive rock venue.

This album is different. A few of the songs, like “Sorrow,” “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” and “Runaway” sound like the way I expect the National to sound. We’ll put these under my “Meets Expectations” list, except “Bloodbuzz,” which Exceeds expectations.

“England,” goes even further beyond that “class” I was talking about. The song builds to a crescendo of french horns and coronets (and drums…lots of drums). Again, this song exceeds expectations.

Then, there’s this strange thing with this album. “Conversation 16” sounds like it could be a cover of a New Order song. “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Afraid of Anyone” both also sound like they were ripped from the early ’80s. I like these songs, but they just aren’t what I was looking for with the National. They “Meet” or “Fail to Meet” my expectations, depending on how I feel.

“Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,”…I don’t know what to make of this song, except that it is out of Matt Berninger’s usual baritone range. It sounds weird. It fails to meet my expectations.

Another thing about this one is…I hate the cover art. I mean, really hate it. And the CD case is one of those skinny cardboard ones that never fits right in a CD rack. On top of this, there’s no booklet, so really, I almost wish I had bought this of Amie Street and done away with offending jacket.

So, overall this is a good, maybe great album. And if it weren’t the National, I would probably just say it’s a great album, but I’ve come to expect greatness from them. High Violet falls (very slightly) short.

-jason

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