The National are back with their first album in four years, Sleep Well Beast. It serves as the follow-up to Trouble Will Find Me and the band’s seventh full-length overall.
Coming from 4AD, the 12-track effort was produced by the band’s own Aaron Dessner, with his brother Bryce and frontman Matt Berninger. Most of the recording happened at Aaron’s Long Pond Studio in Hudson Valley, New York, with additional sessions taking place in Berlin, Paris, and Los Angeles.
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Sleep Well Beast finds the band taking a bleak turn from the comparatively optimistic Trouble Will Find Me. Berninger’s lyrics wrestle not only with the anxieties of fatherhood (“I’ll Still Destroy You”) and relationships (“Day I Die”), but with the current political climate (“Turtleneck”, which was written the day after the November election). As our own Sasha Geffen said in her review of the album,
“What’s Obama’s rock band to do in the age of Trump?
Soldier on, it seems, despite the rising tide of stress that’s afflicting this whole country, soaking both our public and private lives. If you can get past all the heterosexuality, The National might be the closest thing America has ever had to The Smiths: a dexterous guitar band with a magnetically morose frontman who’s able to complain about the government and his love life in the same breath with the same eloquence and the same dark humor. Sleep Well Beast certainly takes the air out of the hopeful balloon that swelled on Trouble Will Find Me, but if there’s ever been a time to wallow in lush, masculine melancholy, it’s now. This beast isn’t going anywhere.”
The album was previewed with the singles “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”, “Guilty Party”, “Carin at the Liquor Store”, and “Day I Die”. Now, however, you can listen to the whole thing below.
Sleep Well Beast Artwork:
Sleep Well Beast Tracklist:
01. Nobody Else Will Be There
02. Day I Die
03. Walk It Back
04. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
05. Born to Beg
07. Empire Line
08. I’ll Still Destroy You
09. Guilty Party
10. Carin at the Liquor Store
11. Dark Side of the Gym
12. Sleep Well Beast