The National – High Violet

This has been the year that I’ve been making an effort to listen to as much new music as possible. And one of the awesome things about that is discovering bands that don’t just have amazing new albums, but an awesome back catalogue. The National is one of those bands.

“High Violet” doesn’t really change the state of music. It isn’t genre bending and it isn’t boundary pushing. But damn it if it isn’t just beautiful. I’m hesitant to make the comparison, but the sense of loss and sadness on this album somehow mimics Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” Not lyrically, obviously (most of Davis’ music is instrumental), but in terms of an overall feel to the album. There’s a feeling of pain and emotion on this album that truly stands out and forces multiple listens.

But I didn’t always think this way. Yishai had been bugging me to check out The National for about year before I gave “High Violet” a listen. And I, like many non-fans I’ve spoke to, didn’t exactly love the album on the first listen. It seemed a bit boring and depressing; like a tired indie band whose only innovation was that their singer has a baritone.

And then I came back to the album. And again. And again. This album, somehow, has this powerful pull, that truly grabs the listener – maybe not initially, but in a way that the songs stick to the roof of your mouth, like a pleasant version of the aftermath of a spoon of peanut butter. The sounds just sort of stay there and settle, oozing their way into the brain, slowly breaking down our defenses to this kind of music and forces us to fall in love with it.

I’ve fallen for the album and the band, and you should too.

The National – Terrible Love

The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

2 responses to “The National – High Violet

  1. Oh, I’ve always said that the best music out there is the music that doesnt agree with the listener at first (or sometimes even sounds just plain bad) but then grows on you. It is also this kind of music that one may hate, but then come back to years later and absolutely love, wondering how they could ever have hated this music. Radiohead is the most notable example for me, and I suspect for many others. Grizzly Bear’s another.

    This would also apply to an artist’s albums. An artist took many many months (or often years) to create an entire album, putting songs in a particular order for a reason. It bothers me when listeners listen to the radio songs and just stop there, skimming some hooks of the top of a potentially life-changing work of art, and then just walking away. I’ve always wondered why this didnt seem to bother any other music fans. (Does it? Maybe I’m just bad at “live and let live”;)
    Host and subsequent commenters:

    Would you agree?

    Would you apply this to all forms of art? I would.

    Would you apply it to dating 😉 ?

    I’m liking The National on first listen (right now). I’ll have to check em out, and hopefully theyll just get better and better…

  2. “I’ve fallen for the album and the band.”

    Me too.

    Me too.