My favorite band at the moment is The National, whose latest album High Violet came out in May. Made up of two pairs of brothers and the lead singer Matt Berninger, who also writes all the lyrics, the band is part of a vital music scene happening in Brooklyn. In a NYT Magazine profile, Nicholas Dawidoff wrote: "Each National song is a microbatch creation integrating their obsessive, often-diverging feelings about rock 'n' roll."
Matt Berninger's notebook
I find their brooding, dirgey songs compellingly addictive. They draw you in slowly, and they get better with repeated listening. Matt Berninger's baritone, with its melancholic timbre, delivers his elliptical lyrics above a highly textured sound. There is an urgency in their music, which reminds me of Joy Division, whose memorable songs also transcended their dark undertones to be somehow strangely uplifting. Berninger, whom the band members nickname The Dark Lord, writes his songs in a notebook filled with fragments like these:
"It takes an ocean not to break"
"Sorrow's my body on the waves"
"I was swallowing the shine of the sun"
He claims that their songs have always concerned the "the unmagnificent lives of adults," which is somewhat misleading. They are just very well crafted and beautiful songs, not as lugubrious as Berninger implies.
My favorite song is Sorrow, which is not included on the video below, but their rendition of Terrible Love here is utterly riveting.