Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: The National - High Violet (* * * 1/2)

Any band that relegates a guest list including Sufjan Stevens and Justin Vernon to tiny font in the liner notes obviously sees no need to capitalize on the recognition recording with these artists might bring. And it’s true the National don’t need to be famous by association. These five gentlemen from Brooklyn have—in what could perhaps be described as a most traditional and unspectacular manner—transitioned into one of the indie world’s most revered rock bands. Now, with their fifth release, High Violet, they've about reached superstar status, and they’re ready for their close-ups, as it were. A quick look at the band’s two appearances on Letterman—the first to do Boxer highlight “Fake Empire” and the most recent to perform new single “Afraid of Everyone”—best exhibits what I mean. No longer does frontman Matt Berninger stand nervously clutching the mic, staring at the floor while delivering lines like he’s reading excerpts from his journal. Nowadays he gazes almost assertively outward, dressed to kill and sounding fantastic, while he and the band display previously unseen confidence as they run through a charismatic, dynamic performance. (Read the rest @ In Review Online)