NEW YORK - MAY 15: Matt Berninger of The National performs onstage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music presented by ZYNC from American Express on May 15, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images for American Express) *** Local Caption *** Matt Berninger
They're supporting their brand new album, High Violet, which follows 2007's critically acclaimed Boxer and 2005's critically acclaimed Alligator. I think you can see where this is going.
The band is led by Matt Berninger, whose deep voice and dark lyrics speak to people who live ordinary lives. Two sets of brothers support him, with Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner and Scott Devendorf on various stringed instruments, and Bryan Devendorf on drums.
High Violet, which was released May 10, is pretty much guaranteed to make many year-end lists (including OwlandBear.com's). With high ratings from indie tastemaking websites like the A.V. Club and Pitchfork, it shouldn't be difficult for the National to keep the positive momentum going.
While the Pitchfork review is essentially a giant backhanded compliment that gives a high rating but seems short on actual praise (we've come to expect this from the notoriously crabby rag),the A.V. Club called High Violet "masterful" and praised Berninger's ability to channel the ruminations of "overeducated and spiritually malnourished urbanites, charting the growing disaffection that comes when the weight of adulthood begins to crowd out the emptiness of prolonged adolescence." With themes like those, it's no wonder that Berninger and his band of brothers appeal to indie fans.
I saw the National play at House of Blues last year, and it was quite good. For those who are lucky enough to have purchased tickets to see them at Spreckels, you're in for a treat. For the rest of you, well, you missed your chance. It's sold out -- you'll have to wait until next time.
T. Loper is a writer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.