The National's Matt Berninger is a fantastic lyricist, as we discover on the Brooklyn fivesome's fifth record. Delivered in his sombre baritone are stories of long-distance separation, father/son fears and life as a ghost in a city so sorrowful that even his milk and honey are contaminated.
Building on 2007's Boxer, High Violet should keep the melancholic band's aging indie fans crying into the future. One of the strongest tracks, Sorrow, starts with percussion pitter-patter that evokes a week-long rainstorm, while Berninger engulfs you in his every-line-is-my-last-breath vocals.
The weakest link is Lemonworld, which trips itself up on too many thoughts. But the rest of this misery tour? Masterful.
Top track: Sorrow
The National play Massey Hall June 8 and 9.