To some, High Violet may be considered the “difficult second album” by US troubadours The National as the 2007 album Boxer was most people’s introduction to this sublime band (this writer included).
However, it is actually their fifth effort and arguably their finest. There has been great anticipation over this record due to the brilliance of its predecessor and from the opening track ‘Terrible Love’ onwards it is clear this is a band who have hit an extremely rich vein of form. Yes, there are still cryptic lyrics from songwriter Matt Berninger with talk of “walking with spiders” but did anyone really know what he was talking about on ‘Green Gloves’?
The music, is also of the quality you would expect when you have the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Richard Reed Perry (Arcade Fire) involved. Standout tracks change on a daily basis but special mention has to be given to ‘Afraid of Everyone’ which has to be close to a career highlight with the line “I’ll defend my family with my orange umbrella” offering a haunting image of a troubled soul.
Recorded once again with Peter Katis (Interpol, Frightened Rabbit) his trademark sound is all over the record with distinctive orchestral arrangement and military drumming aplenty. It is quite simply a beautiful record and there is a space on your shelf reserved for it.