The National
High Violet


4.5
superb

Review

by Andy Antar USER (6 Reviews)
January 2nd, 2011 | 15 replies | 4,697 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sorrowfully post-romantic in its drawl, yet you can’t help but swell with love.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Album covers work much like dust-jacket blurbs, icons in suspension to capture and define the musical content its withheld. The cover for ‘High Violet’ is perfectly fitting in its purpose. ‘High Violet’ unravels like drunken squiggles of measly colors across a slate canvas – grey streaks sprawl across the scene to mirror all the drab routines you coalesce into your life. In many ways, the record is the anthem for every audience below the fattest tax brackets, it sings proletariat woes, within the emotionally barren century we sleep in. The National are quintessential men-of-the-times, their work ethic (and underlying disillusionment) is distilled into their latest release. Berninger and his bandmates constructed their career without shortcuts, writing albums each a logical progression over the last, and garnering a polite amount of attention each time. This nose-to-the-grindstone humility bleeds from every quiet pause and stutter of the record, in wonderfully thin and erratic pastels.

Berninger’s voice is a vessel across this canvas. And what a melancholy paintbrush it is, vocals limply cresendoing yet commanding in ‘England’, sorrowful and straining in ‘Afraid of Everyone’. Woe-is-me sounds too comely in this tune, the punchy drums and guitars creeps slowly behind, as Berninger’s picket fence depression cries out for prescription medication (“I don’t have the drugs to sort it out”). The rhythm pounds the tribal march of the middle-class too tired to revolt, an image of what Arcade Fire's suburban kids look like after years at a steady desk job. Swells of pathetic energy thread themselves through the record, they pump with a painful sense of reminiscence in 'Lemonworld', guitarwork shuddering with refrigerator buzz. 'Conversation 16' fizzes densely for escape into something more expansive than a claustrophobic mid-life crisis.

The sticking point of 'High Violet' is that adjectives like "monotonous", "fuzzy" and "tired" work in its favor rather than against it. It seems almost humble as it plays out, certainly absent of the antiquated flamboyance present in most of their peers. The record hums reclusively like an aging computer in a cubicle farm. Occasionally it flourishes with the signature of The National, majestic horns in 'England' puffs and pushes the surrounding instrumentation to the front where they glitter, much like two crashing waves - it's beautiful to witness. Elsewhere, 'High Violet' succumbs to its ennui. Lullaby-like 'Runaway' strolls slowly on and on about a chorus of surrender. More pitiful than poignant, yet it marks the quietest moment on 'High Violet'.


What ‘High Violet’ eventually accomplishes is loosely pasting a sense of majesty to modern existence. Not consciously reaching for grandiose, simply settling for illuminating the bourgeois with luke-warm hope. Sorrowfully post-romantic in its drawl, yet you can’t help but swell with love.



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user ratings (1660)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
couldwinarabbit
January 2nd 2011



6996 Comments


review is fantastic and really captures what made Alligator and Boxer great. This just never clicked with me how those two albums, or even sad songs for dirty lovers, did. Lemoworld is a masterpiece though.

conradtao
Emeritus
January 2nd 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really overrated album, but excellent review.

Enotron
January 2nd 2011



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Lemoworld is a masterpiece


123

album is amazing tho buck u two

KeithStone582
January 2nd 2011



1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Big Words!

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 2nd 2011



23643 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

awesome review. This album is a classic, conradtao just misspoke, that's all.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Drsmith4
January 2nd 2011



1696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll gladly pos this, if just for the fact that you used 'bourgeois' wonderfully

oh, and for the fact it's a damn good review.

Apollo
January 2nd 2011



10083 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

work of art review. fucking righteous

STOP SHOUTING!
January 3rd 2011



628 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"In many ways, the record is the anthem for every audience below the fattest tax brackets, it sings proletariat woes, within the emotionally barren century we sleep in. The National are quintessential men-of-the-times"

it doesn't "sing proletariat woes" at all, the opposite if anything.

TheSpirit
January 3rd 2011



16662 Comments


i feel like this review is trying too hard

Digging: Sexdrome - Grown Younger

Andy Antar
January 3rd 2011



51 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"it doesn't "sing proletariat woes" at all, the opposite if anything."

"I still owe money to the money to the money I owe"

"Sorrow they put me on the bill ... I live in the city sorrow built ... It's in my honey, it's in my milk"

Thank God music is subjective, right?

STOP SHOUTING!
January 3rd 2011



628 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i associate "proletariat" with manual labour or working class. berninger sings more about city life. you seem to acknowledge that yourself when you talk about "the tribal march of the middle class" and in the last paragraph about him "illuminating the bourgeois with luke-warm hope".



Andy Antar
January 3rd 2011



51 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah yep. What I've done is appropriate the definition to highlight the corporate working class. Desk jockeys, so to speak. Berninger's disillusionment with that sort of thing is just something that I see in his lyrics.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2011



6960 Comments


Incredible review!

Digging: Wild Beasts - Present Tense

YetAnotherBrick
April 10th 2011



4316 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh my god, this review is insanely good.

"The record hums reclusively like an aging computer in a cubicle farm."

Wow. I hope I'm able to write like this someday.

Digging: Battles - Mirrored

Piglet
April 10th 2011



4644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gotta love dem lemonworlds



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