11 May 2010

Listen to This: The National - High Violet

I'm afraid to even touch this topic. It's past 2:30am and I know it's already been said by others who are much more advanced in their musical musings but I want to say it:

The National's High Violet is one of the best albums I've ever heard in my life.

Maybe I don't have wonderful new words to describe its intensity and haunting beauty but I am obsessed. Obsessed in a way that doesn't fade after a few listens, obsessed in a way that continues to gain momentum with every listen and drive me crazy wondering how music like this can even be created. I can't decide which song is best because every song just keeps sounding better and better. I'm not well enough acquainted with these songs to give a full view of everything I'm thinking or will be thinking within a few more listens. You have to absorb these songs and give them time to settle in your brain. I give a lot of credit to someone who can write a coherent review of this without gushing all over it. There is not a single poor word to be said about this masterpiece. I don't even know how many layers fill up every second of each piece -- it makes me want to be a musician just so I can try to understand the complexity.

The amazing thing about Matt Berninger particularly is that he makes these incredibly complex, jarring, exquisite pieces relatable to even an untrained ear such as my own. His voice fills up the holes that inevitably occur for someone who can't translate the foreign language of these incredible instruments. His lyrics are both mystifying and real. This is not just music that sounds good (as my blog title would imply) - this is music that makes you feel something. And for that matter, it is not just "something" - it is the deepest, darkest part of your heart that is hardest to reach. It makes you remember that there is another layer of yourself as well.

I can't even believe I'm saying these crazy things about a set of a few songs. It's not unusual for me to be extremely excited about my favorite music but I assure you, this is not just music. This is a sound reminding me that I have more in me than I even realize. I am in my early/almost mid twenties. I am in a weird place in my life that I often try to ignore. It is a scary time in anyone's life but even scarier to be this age in the times we live in. I get scared a lot. Matt Berninger's voice reminds me of this and yet makes me feel like I should be brave about these fears. He openly admits his feelings of fear, inadequacy, and confusion... not in any way I have ever heard though. It is sophisticated, endearing, full of space to place yourself in his position.

I may never find the right words to express how I feel when I hear The National. It is so different from any other music I have ever experienced. When you hear Sam Cooke sing "A Change is Gonna Come", you feel something deep inside your gut that tells you this is the real thing. The National has this in every song. It is realistically magical and unfathomably honest and stirring. Matt Berninger sings "doo doo doo doo" and you feel the earth move.

Photo from the brilliant Vanity Fair article, "Feasting on the National".

1 comment:

Winston Yamin said...

I think you drank The National Kool Aid, girl.