Album Review

The National - Laugh Track

The mood is subdued but not downcast, just as was the case on its predecessor.

The National - Laugh Track

It’s probably safe to assume that Matt Berninger’s period of writer’s block is very much over. Surprise-releasing a second record within six months, The National present a companion piece to April’s ‘First Two Pages of Frankenstein’. The basic DNA of that record is woven through ‘Laugh Track’; high-profile features, some of Matt’s most deeply ruminative lyrical world and a generally delicate, thoughtful feel to the way things sound. The mood is subdued but not downcast, just as was the case on its predecessor. This album, though, is perhaps musically more impressionistic; you understand why ‘Weird Goodbyes’, their off-kilter collaboration with Bon Iver that was released last year, made it on to this record instead of ‘…Frankenstein’. It’s more in keeping with an album that wanders off in strange stylistic directions, with experimental guitar on ‘Alphabet City’ and a loose feel to the likes of ‘Smoke Detector’ and the title track. ‘Space Invader’, meanwhile, contains one of the finest performances that drummer Bryan Devendorf has ever committed to record, as part of a sprawling, eight-minute investigation into what might have happened if anybody had ever taken The Velvet Underground’s ‘Sister Ray’ and gone full psych odyssey with it. Maybe it’s an indication of where they’ll go next, because they will be going somewhere; after a period of self-doubt, they are very much back.

Tags: The National, Reviews, Album Reviews

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