The National
Sleep Well Beast


4.0
excellent

Review

by rliu USER (9 Reviews)
September 7th, 2017 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The story continues

Four years since the band's last album Trouble Will Find Me, we see that the trouble has found them, and has morphed into a Beast.

Harking back to the album cover for Boxer, which saw a black and white photo of the band playing at their producer's wedding, the cover of Sleep Well Beast features a monochrome photo of the band in the studio superimposed over a chalet style structure. The wintry, claustrophobic imagery is embodied within the album itself. Immediately, the opening track Nobody Else Will Be There begins with clodding drumbeats that sound like the footsteps of a beaten man, 'Can you remind me the building you live in, I'm on my way' implores Berninger. The question remains unanswered, and the heavy footsteps trudge on into a chorus of 'Nobody else will be there then'.

Introduced by the band in promo interviews as a break-up album, all of the songs tackle the central theme head on with little space for respite. 'I swear you got a little bit taller since I saw you, I'll still destroy you' declares Berninger on I'll Still Destroy You, as if wary the listener might have permitted more optimistic thoughts to interject in the interim. While the second single Guilty Party has the highly effective refrain 'I say your name, I say I'm sorry'. The sorry lingers on in the listener's imagination, as if the singer is apologising for his thoughts, his motives, his very existence.

The other common emotion apart from self pity and hurt in a break-up scenario is self defiance and shifting the blame onto the other person, and this is shown in the more energetic songs found here. On Day I Die Berninger spits out 'I don't need you, I don't need you, Besides I barely ever see you anymore'. While on The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness the singer warns 'Maybe I listen more than you think, I can tell that somebody sold you.'

Ultimately the anger and the push-back fades back into resignation. On the final track Sleep Well Beast, Berninger's voice is stripped back to a dry croaking narration. 'Go back to sleep, let me drive, let me think, let me figure it out; How to get us back to the place where we were when we first went out' calls out the narrator, before deciding 'I'll still destroy you some day, sleep well beast, you as well beast'.

The metaphorical Beast that the album describes is much the same as the one The National's previous three albums have been concerned with. Matt Berninger's lyrics and the sombre compositions of the Dessner brothers has been on a continuous journey to bring to life an amalgam of a F Scott Fitzgerald character - an erudite, morose, well-heeled man who seems intent on narrating his own romantic destruction. Sleep Well Beast sees this character magnified and pushed to its logical next level, in the form of a coherent concept album. The increased use of synths and syndicated drums shows the band's sound absorbing the zeitgeist of James Blake style downtempo electro.

This, alongside Boxer, is perhaps the soul of The National laid bare. They are a band for the over-educated and neurotic, those keen to analyse and define every chapter of their life, every emotion, every landmark moment. Extrapolating further, The Beast of Berninger's mind is really the post-Freudian Western world - we are self obsessed and determined to find meaning through love in a religion-free culture. We will never be rid of this Beast, we can only implore it to occasionally rest and sleep.



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user ratings (717)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
cylinder
September 7th 2017


1360 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review. could maybe get in a little more about the sound, but that kinda feels like nitpicking when what you have here is already so perceptive. love the comparison to an F. Scott character, like damn that almost makes too much sense. "The Beast of Berninger's mind" sentence is wonderful too. gonna jam this tonight, i am tingling with excitement

Digging: Vomir - Proanomie

trackbytrackreviews
September 7th 2017


3361 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

doesn't this come out until tomorrow though

theBoneyKing
September 7th 2017


15076 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Well by now it's out in like half the world already so I think it's fine.

Digging: Animal Collective - Feels

STOP SHOUTING!
September 7th 2017


779 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

'to find meaning through love in a religion-free culture' ... pretty much!

DoofusWainwright
September 7th 2017


20004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sleep Well Servers



Classic timing Sput

Satellite
September 7th 2017


25796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

correct rating

AngryLittleAlchemist
September 7th 2017


1999 Comments


Wowow wait ... this band just released a new album?

Tf

InfamousGrouse
September 7th 2017


4330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gotta applaud your daily efforts to republish this piece of writing in hope that the mods will be lenient

FreddieDelaney31
September 7th 2017


4392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

*wags fist* how many times we gotta teach you this lesson old man



Good review tho

Digging: Foxing - Nearer My God

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


8368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

most records shops where I am have already stocked the album out for everyone.. Pos for the review, terse but on point

Digging: A.C. Temple - Blowtorch

Lucid
September 7th 2017


9887 Comments


Empire Line and Walk it Back are kinda weak, love the rest of the record.

Toad
September 7th 2017


1969 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

cover reminds me of Kentucky Route Zero

Dylan620
September 7th 2017


4124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Running out after class tomorrow to pick up a copy, can't wait for my hype 5 to be justified

EyesWideShut
September 7th 2017


4761 Comments


solid album, but cant put it over their last 4 joints.. just speaks on how solid that discography is.

FreddieDelaney31
September 8th 2017


4392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Maybe their best album

Working on a review of this myself



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