The National
The Virginia EP


4.0
excellent

Review

by theTourist USER (21 Reviews)
June 16th, 2010 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Stellar Entry in a Stellar Discography

“The Virginia EP” is far more than an assorted collection of B-sides but instead a strong, fully-formed piece of work, one that ranks up with other classic EP’s like “My Iron Lung” (1994), “Pisces Iscariot” (1994), and Arcade Fire’s debut (2003) as well as The National’s other albums. The 4/5 rating does not mean ‘it’s excellent for an EP’ but rather ‘it’s excellent for an album’ – a judgment that holds true even if the demo/live versions of previously released album material (Slow Show, Lucky You, Fake Empire) are removed.

“The Virginia EP” has a proper opening song with the midtempo “You’ve Done It Again, Virginia”, which resembles “So Far Around the Bend” from “Dark Was the Night” (2009) in its bouncy rhythm, and a perfect closing formed by the back-to-back live recordings of “Mansion on a Hill”, “Fake Empire”, and “About Today”. “Mansion” is one of the better Springsteen covers available with a violin and Matt Berninger’s baritone adding a new perspective to the sparse original. “About Today” embellishes the original recording (available on the “Cherry Tree” EP) with intricate guitar work that explodes in the final minutes as the audience claps along.

The harsh guitar chords and Berninger’s muffled voice on “Rest of Years” recall the better tracks on “The National” (2001) while “Blank Slate”, which reworks the lyrics from “Keep It Upstairs” from the Abel EP, packs the punch of “Apartment Story” thanks to Bryan Devendorf’s typically stellar drumming – if “The Virginia EP” were a proper album “Blank Slate” would be the lead single. It’s also more straightforward than a typical National Song – Berninger’s lyrics of confusion and self-doubt still play an important role throughout “The Virginia EP”, but for the most part his characters sound more clear and confident. He proclaims that he’s “an extraordinary man unbroken in the breaking light” on the excellent “Forever After Days” and offers the tentatively reassuring “I don't worry anymore/Nothing like I did before” on “Santa Clara”. If nothing else, the success of the more grounded songs on “The Virginia EP” demonstrates that the sustained melancholic gloom of “Boxer” (2008) and “High Violet” (2010) is the result of artistic choice rather than limited range.

Many of these songs on “The Virginia EP” were available well before its release, so longtime fans are likely to find it to have a limited amount to offer, but relative newcomers – like the many who were introduced to The National through “Boxer” and “High Violet” - will find plenty to love. The National produces some of the best B-sides around (check out “Cherry Tree”, “Ashamed of the Story I Told”, and “Driver, Surprise Me” for a few other great ones), and “The Virginia EP” is a testament to that.



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user ratings (184)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
NeutralThunder12
June 16th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

some of the stuff on here is great. But some is bad. But the band is fucking incredible soooooo

Parallels
June 16th 2010


9119 Comments


god this review is hard to read for me, way too many comparisons to other songs. you should try to use less of them and write more factual explanations

Nagrarok
June 17th 2010


8645 Comments


Review need less “ ”

Knott-
Emeritus
September 11th 2010


10246 Comments


how close am i... to losing.. you?

Activista anti-MTV
September 29th 2011


3152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So beautiful or so what? This is beautiful music

CelestialDust
December 18th 2011


3168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

santa clara is really good

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
December 19th 2011


1972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Such an underrated EP.

Aids
June 10th 2012


24462 Comments


only National material i've not heard. i should fix that.

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
June 11th 2012


1972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do it. For me at least the first few tracks are right up there.

BigHans
September 14th 2017


30957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Version of Lucky You on this just kills

CugnoBrasso
October 30th 2017


1139 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm enjoying this EP way more than I thought.

BigHans
April 18th 2019


30957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How in the Hell was Mansion on the Hill never put on an album?

Clumseee
April 18th 2019


1694 Comments


I would assume solely because it's a cover.

BigHans
April 18th 2019


30957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm slightly appalled at myself that I didn't know that, especially since its Springsteen.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 18th 2020


21180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

these live tracks are better than I expected

Pangea
September 18th 2020


6630 Comments


blank slate is one of the best national songs

Digging: Charles Mingus - Let My Children Hear Music

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2020


21180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is great stuff but somehow even more nondescript/unmemorable than their usual work

porcupinetheater
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2020


7930 Comments


Santa Clara is forever under appreciated

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2020


21180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Opener and closer would be my picks from this, Santa Clara is great too!



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