We instantly embrace the loneliness as The National dive into their troubles with Sleep Well Beast. Their latest release pulls us down deeper into their downward spiral, we realize that the narrative stays the same. The band’s 7th LP remains consistent to its sister albums Boxer, High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me.
Matt Berninger’s signature poignant vocals emphasize the sadness in the first track “Nobody Else Will Be There.” “You said we’re not so tied together, what did you mean? Meet me in the stairwell in a second, for a glass of gin.” We continue to ride the cool wave of emotion in the fourth single “Day I Die” and “Walk It Back.”
The lead single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” is reminiscent to “Don’t Swallow the Cap.” The contrast of a slightly different beat and tormented lyrics create an effective relationship. “I thought that this would all work out after a while, now you’re saying that I’m asking for too much attention, also no other faith is light enough for this place, we said we’d only die of lonely secrets.” Whereas the melancholy “Born to Beg” displays the same sweet longing vocals that we heard in “I Need My Girl.”
“Turtleneck” highlights Berninger’s brooding baritone voice and we hear the desperation in “Empire Line” which asks the question: can’t you find a way? “I’ve been trying to see where you’re going, but you’re so hard to follow, and I don’t think we’re getting anywhere anytime soon, we have so much to cover and I don’t know what I’m expecting, you just keep saying so many things that I wish you won’t.”
“I Still Destroy You” and the second single “Guilty Party,” tap into the same somber state, but with different arrangements. “Carin at the Liquor Store” is a poetically captivating piece. “Sleep Well Beast’s” programmed loop and soft electric guitar quietly hypnotize.
Sleep Well Beast is a prime example that every now and then, consistency can be refreshing. The new album projects the same cynical thoughts with slightly different hooks. The National don’t venture off into the unknown to explore new territory, instead, they choose to stay in one place where trouble will find them.