Truck Store Recommends – The National

On a seemingly unstoppable upwards trajectory The National return with another masterpiece in ‘Sleep Well Beast’. After some sterling side-projects and extra curricular activities which saw all 5 members explore new avenues and collaborations, the band regrouped at Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond studio in Hudson Valley, New York to work on what would become their most ‘National’ album to date.

The real magic at the heart of this band has always been the tension between the moments of dignified serenity and the occasional maelstroms of emotional turbulence and ‘Sleep Well…’ has magnificent examples of both throughout. The subtle, domestically focused numbers in which front-man Matt Berninger and his wife/co-writer Carin Besser explore the minutiae of married life and middle-aged dread, all dinner party ennui and thin-skinned prickliness, contrast impeccably with the albums big hitting moments, which feature the Dessner brothers most traditionally ‘rock’ guitar playing and some stirring, if intentionally awkward choruses.

Elsewhere we see more electronic textures and synthetic drums (although there’s plenty of Bryan Devendorf’s trademark off-kilter drum patterns) join the Dessners palette of guitars, piano and trumpet, making this the deepest listen in the National’s sterling back catalogue. As ever the songs feature numerous deeply personal observations and references (sunburned mother’s arms, getting a little punchy with vodka, becoming a father when still a son) which feel like peering into Berninger’s fear-racked inner monologue, yet like the best art the personal becomes a cipher for the wider fears of those on the same wavelength… Lest we forget this is the band who soundtracked the triumphant re-election of Barrack Obama, in the age of Trump these New York urbanites must feel like the world has shifted under their feet and if ever there was a band to capture the general unease of a generation it’s The National.

Triumphant, terrified and terrific they’ve done it again!

The National – Sleep Well Beast, CD

Click & Collect; Buy now and collect in-store at your convenience


The National – Sleep Well Beast, White LP

Click & Collect; Buy now and collect in-store at your convenience


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