Monday, September 20, 2010

Album Review: The National - High Violet (4/5)

It's very left-field for me, but I rather like Brooklyn based band The National's fifth album High Violet. It's not the unusual alternative rock I usually go for--it's different but it works. They're weird, slightly grungy, indie-rock punky sound reminds me of Canadian rock band Arcade Fire, only this is an easier pill to swallow. High Violet does sound like a dizzying clash of different rock-oriented sounds upon the first listen, but after digging through the dirt underneath lies a pretty plausible body of work.

Opening is grungy "Terrible Love," caved by distorted layers of guitars, pacing drums, piano keys and a host of haunting soundscapes beneath the surface. I didn't get it at first, but now I think is a very striking opener, funnily enough it's one of the albums most subdued tracks. "Sorrow" is a cool brewing mid-tempo, ringed with light hovering mix of hi-hats and drum--hollow piercing dark atmospheric background noise and fast paced twingy guitar chords. Matt Berninger's vocals a more bold and apparent on here than the last track--it works the song well. "Anyone's Ghost" is another great raw rock-edged number, heavily driven by drums and baroscopic guitar work. It's one of my favorites.

Moody "Little Faith," is the first to heavily bank on melody, slowly progressing with airy soundscapes, gentle guitar strings--showcasing a sense of depression but at the same time, angelic vibes. "Afraid of Everyone" continues to brew up the haunt; a hollow drub of soundscapes, eerie background noise and subtle clashes of piano and drums beneath the noise. "Bloodbuzz Ohio" cranks up the uneven drum beats lined with layers of guitars and strings.

Similarly, "Lemonworld" chugs with strains of subtle electronic guitar work--underneath the riveting drums. "Runaway," is more subdued--tailed down with softer soudscapes and deep vocals and I'm hearing more melody than I have In previous tracks. Picking up the tempo is "Conversation 16," it's different but still re-hasing the drums and eerie soundscapes.

Towards the end we find "England" a progressive haunting number with gripping number with layers of guitar work beneath the haunting 'scapes. I love this track--It's one of the handful I cherry picked from iTunes. Bringing the album to a close is "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" another hauting "ballad" with eerie soundscapes--it does kind of drag on a bit with no real climax but I like it.

I don't own this album, but I really do like it. I picked a handful of tracks on iTunes--which I thought were the albums standouts. Overall, High Violet is a strange but gripping fifth album--one of the more interesting albums I've heard all year.

Best: Anyone's Ghost, Sorrow, Afraid of Everyone, England, Runaway


ww_adh said...

Kudos to you for reviewing this album!!! I love this album. "Sorrow" is such an amazing song.

J.Mensah said...

Thanks! :) I think I should learn to love it more... It's weird but it's brilliant.