The National

This is our potential music article for our magazine we’re creating for an assignment. Would be good if you could proofread and let me know what you think

The National aren’t a new band or a hipster band, The National are that kind of band, the kind of band that only come around every so often. The kind of band who’s records become more than CD’s, they become part of the furniture, another decorative, noir-esque piece to put on the mahogany table. Their world is a monochrome, grey skied Lowry painting of middle America. But every now and then the clouds split and the rays of the sun emanate to the chorus of Abel or to a brief crescendo. The National are an important band.

Its mid 2010 and Matt Berninger’s monotonous drawl is back again, guiding The National’s songs through their intricate constructs. I find the best way to imagine the four other members of The National (Bryce and Aaron Dessner; Bryan and Scott Devendorf) is as a baby being cradled in Berninger’s gangly arms, rocking from side to side whilst having strange lullabies whispered in their ears. The release of High Violet, a record well documented to have caused friction within the band, heralds a band perhaps not radically changing their sound – and why should they? – but a band releasing a game changing record. This is where, for better or worse, The National become stadium sized big. And although Berninger supported President Obama during his campaign for office the next Bono he is not.

The classically trained Dessner twins arrange the music. Soft, sweeping melodies capable of being beautiful and brutal in the same instant. The National are either life affirming or heartbreaking. They are a band of extremes. Almost like that friend you have whose either always crying or always happy even though you know they’ll be alright.

Scott adds bass, often rumbling, often triumphant. Scott’s bass is an aristocratic bass fallen on hard times, a bass that has lived in the gutter, in alleys and squatted in abandoned Victorian houses. A world weary bass with a bristly beard. Scott’s brother Bryan layers the drums over the top. Pallbearer drums, foreboding at every corner. The kick drum is the car coming towards you. The cymbal is the car hitting you. And then there’s the brief after-world, the respite both in Bryan letting go and you having been letting go.

Matt writes or co-writes most of the lyrics and then sings them. Lyrics are layers of vague musings on cities, states, women, love. Sample lyric: It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders – a nonsensical sentence that means nothing but conjures up some interesting imagery. But The National make it mean something. Berninger’s everyday Ohioan singing voice connects on every syllable. They turn the mundane into the profound, change their distance into closeness. This is the point where The National stop becoming The National. They become something far more personable and far more affected. The National become you. It might take a few listens to realise and to accept but they’ll worm their way in. Sit back, cease and desist and revel in letting go of your resistance.

The National are important because you’re important.

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