It’s been eight years since Berninger screamed on record, and now that act appears to have served as some kind of exfoliant. (He also quit smoking in 2011.) His vocals are deeper and richer than ever, as well as more tuneful and elegant. The National’s dirty secret is that for all of the Dessner brothers’ orchestral ambitions, these songs are simple things: Instantly memorable melodies and minimal chord progressions become familiar after one listen, and then there’s a pivot, usually undetectable the first time around, that takes the National towards one of their proprietary grand finales. The greatness lies in when the listener connects the two and realizes they’re part of the same song.
I’m so glad this album is finally out so I can read every single rave review.