Tuesday, June 1

Album Of Last Month

The National 'High Violet' (4AD)

What is the biggest injustice you can think of? The death of Diana? The sexual exploitation of children? Mel Gibson? How about when one of your dearest bands don't get the utter appreciation their unsurpassed talent is worthy of? This is plainly a familiar vexation amongst kosher music fans, and one that has seen, say, Dizzee Rascal undertake major league production in order to wangle such riches. The National, the Brooklyn five-piece who are now five albums in but no Calvin Harris team-up in sight, are one of those groups. 2005's splendid 'Alligator' may have upsized their cult, 2007's grand 'Boxer' that much more, yet their affable, stunning indie rock is still yet to make farther than Josh Schwartz's iPod and R.E.M. support slots. Notin' wrong with that, but if the faultless splendor stemming from 'High Violet' fails to stimulate the great unwashed a la 'Automatic For The People' by the year's end, there's even more evidence for ya: Most people are total imbeciles.
'Terrible Love' sets things in motion by way of steering semi-'87 U2 reverb around a crunchy, dogged riff, with timid leader Matt Berninger offering his customary misty wordplay ("It's a terrible love and I'm walking with spiders; It's a terrible love that I'm walking with").
The maybe-a-tad prosaic 'Anyone's Ghost' does pull momentum back a bit, but all is forgiven when 'Afraid of Everyone's indelible mellifluousness treks under a haunting, bashful wall of Tindersticks-type goodness. "I defend my family with my orange umbrella; I'm afraid of everyone; With my shiny new star-spangled tennis shoes on; I'm afraid of everyone," shivers Berninger, via what is perhaps a dig at our all-front young. Already this is The National's most capable record yet. Every gradation of their plush-but-not-too-plush commotion is coming together, only to forge these meaty opuses of world-weary imagination.
"Lay me on the table, put flowers in my mouth; And we can say that we invented a summer-loving torture party," he evocatively tells in the light-dark 'Lemonworld', a Wilco keys-ferried swash of categorical panorama... Hampstead Heath in song or something. And 'England' is probably the best National song, like, ever. Drop-dead piano, a strings-hefty backdrop, glorious strains of grandeur. "Famous angels never come through England, England gets the ones you never need; I'm in a Los Angeles cathedral; Minor singing airheads, sing for me," Berninger strikes like a delicate pioneer. 'Heart Of Gold' for the 21st century indeed.
So, surely this is it. The National's Elbow moment. The one that'll take 'em en route to Wembley, both Arena and Stadium... Hmm, you know what? They're just too good for that.

Best Track
England, though go iTunes to get it!
Bloodbuzz Ohio