The National
Cherry Tree


4.0
excellent

Review

by tom USER (12 Reviews)
August 25th, 2014 | 64 replies | 1,214 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: my head plays it over and over

15 of 15 thought this review was well written

Cherry Tree marks the key point in The National’s development when they learned to properly harness that certain something elevating their last four LPs into the peerless space they occupy. Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers was a very good album marred by inconsistency, that elusive quality present in parts but lacking in others. Cherry Tree links the patchy brilliance of Sad Songs to the flawless Alligator with a deft touch and unprecedented focus. It’s our first introduction to the happy haze of ‘All the Wine’, the drinking man’s anthem that went on to famously kickstart the latter’s phenomenal five song finale. That’s been discussed to death, though. What I really want to talk about here are the songs surrounding it.

They’re not all perfect: the Padma Newsome-penned closer ‘Reasonable Man’ misses the mark by some distance, equally out of place as the live recording of ‘Murder Me Rachael’. The real heart of Cherry Tree pumps in the five National originals displaying the qualities that came to define them: the Dessner twins’ classy arrangements, Matt Berninger’s rich baritone and Bryan Devendorf’s inventive beats. The latter is least prominent, often relegated to mere timekeeper by the subdued nature of most songs bar ‘Cherry Tree’; where he answers Berninger’s ‘can we show a little discipline?’ by cutting loose and beating the everloving shit out of his drum set. This moment of catharsis, however gripping, is an anomaly here. The rest of the record sees the band dance along their skinny tightrope with unnerving precision, layering guitars, pianos and strings to create a tension that builds and builds with no release; a perfectly dark backdrop for Berninger’s wicked musings. There’s no questioning his place as the main man here: like that dollhouse in ‘All the Wine’ he carries the record safe on his shoulders with wry wit and stunningly succinct wordplay. It’s no accident he’s become the most quotable lyricist in indie rock. The pictures he paints with so few strokes are a rare gift, like the treacherous woman in ‘All Dolled-Up’: ‘I think I saw you walking in the city / hips like a boy’s / the sun fell behind you and never stood up / my head plays it over and over,’ he seethes, ‘all dolled-up in straps / all coloured in / now, love / where have you been?’ Not that we’re always on his side: the relish with which he confronts her borders on sociopathic. There’s a certain menace in that ‘don’t interrupt me’, like underneath it all the conflict gives him a sick thrill.

This side of Berninger is a tad unsettling perhaps, but it’s just one of many. The turbulent push and pull of love is a common theme throughout and he approaches it from all angles, moving seamlessly from hesitant to triumphant to accusatory and finally snapping with that ‘leave it alone’ in the title track. This boilover leads us to ‘About Today’, a song that so accurately captures the intense loneliness of a slowly decaying relationship I’ve yet to find anything else like it. Over a simple acoustic guitar motif and downbeat violin, Berninger delivers a subtly devastating performance. ‘How close am I to losing you?’ It might take one listen, it might take ten, but when that line hits it does so with the force of a freight train. It’s their first truly perfect song - the spark that ignited one of the great discographies of our time - and alone makes this record worth the price of admission. Throw in the first four tracks and Cherry Tree becomes downright essential.



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user ratings (196)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


just an ep so i tried not to bang on too much here

only wrote this cos it rules and the other review seems to have contracted a nasty virus

'all dolled-up in straps': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_ca777DOqs

'about today': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQRJ336p4sM

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2014



14080 Comments


tommy 4 contrib

Digging: We Will Fail - Verstrung

tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


ye man all over the new releases, this one only came out ten years ago :D

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014



15889 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All Dolled Up In Straps is phenomenal

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

jefflebowski
August 25th 2014



8101 Comments


quality review, nice work dude

sad songs is underrated as fuck though, better than high violet at least

Digging: Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss

Artuma
August 25th 2014



12264 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

swee rev m8 have a pos

Digging: Le Pre Ou Je Suis Mort - Le Pre Ou Je Suis Mort

tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


thanks lads

@ jeff - for sure sad songs is very very good i just mean there are a few more weak spots compared to
the last four cos those things are freakin watertight ya know

danielcardoso
August 25th 2014



2024 Comments


Great review, Tommy.
Hope you're doin' fine.
Pos'd from me, btw.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
August 25th 2014



495 Comments


Great review yada yada pos'd

Digging: Poloniumcubes - One

NorthernSkylark
August 25th 2014



2685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review, keep carrying that dollhouse

Digging: Brian Eno and Karl Hyde - High Life

tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


thanks, nice catch :]

InfamousGrouse
August 25th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

has this never had a review?!

Digging: Gillian Welch - Revival

tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


it did but somewhere along the line it was edited so the text was replaced by all 1s and As

looks like the mods deleted it when i asked em to flag this one

InfamousGrouse
August 25th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea, i was under the impression it definitely did at some point

listening to this now for the first time in aaages, some quality jams for sure

no one is asking to leave it alone, leave it alone..

CAN WE


NorthernSkylark
August 25th 2014



2685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

shoooow

a little discipline

tommygun
August 25th 2014



24584 Comments


man the last two songs really bring this down i just pretend they don't exist and stop after about today hehehe

InfamousGrouse
August 25th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

they're so unlike how the national normally sound, stick out like a sore thumb for sure

NorthernSkylark
August 25th 2014



2685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yes and about today is the perfect closer anyway

ABjordanMM
August 25th 2014



1391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great EP.

Digging: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2014



1653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent review, dude. You really captured this ep.



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