My relationship with Ohio’s double brother band The National has been up and down. I fell in love with “Mr. November” when I heard it on the radio, but only liked half of Alligator. At first I disliked Boxer but then really, really warmed to it.
Then, about a year ago, I saw them live at the Electric Factory. Awful. To be fair, the Electric Factory is a poor choice of venue for their postured maudlin sound, but it was by far the worst concert I saw in 2009. “Limp” is the only way I can think to describe their show. My brother and I, in an attempt to salvage their catalog for ourselves, agreed to pretend that we had never gone to see that show. “The National? Like their albums, but never had the chance to see them live. What was I doing on May 29, 2009, you say? Before I answer that question, let me show you something in this dark alley.” That’s the lengths we’d go to to not think about that show: coldblooded murder.
But the lead single from their new album, “Bloodbuzz, Ohio,” brought it back in a Vietnam flashback. “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe” is the best lyric. So topical! So good! Let me show myself something in this dark alley [gunshot].
The rest of High Violet is better. But not by much. And the sound is so well-worn that I’m not sure I’d notice if you subbed one of their songs from a previous album. Maybe it’ll grow on me like Boxer did, but, really, at this point, why would I let it?
But hey. “Afraid of Everyone” is a good song. Neat guitar sound. I dig. Maybe I should see them live someday…