The National

High Violet (4AD)


Rating: NNNN


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.

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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.

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