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Old 10-19-2015, 05:09 AM   #61
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Another album full of lukewarm midtempo tracks that sound like Anyone's Ghost and Don't Swallow the Cap could really hurt their career.
I can get behind Anyone's Ghost, but Don't Swallow the Cap is a great track. Subtle, almost sinister build-up to the ending, and the whole band is just firing on all cylinders.
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:12 AM   #62
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Exile Vilify is boring as hell. /unpopular opinion
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:26 AM   #63
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There's virtually no band on Exile Vilify. They've generally worked all of their chamber influences into a rock framework, but there's little to that song but piano, vocals and strings. Some soft percussion, sure, but they limit their ace drummer to tambourine and a few rolls. That's a change. All of the songs you mention sound like a rock band played them. They've done acoustic songs before (what band hasn't?) but clearly they were trying something different for a soundtrack.

That said, I think there are subtle songwriting choices made in Pink Rabbits (time signature), Humiliation (driving, krautrock-influenced beat) and This Is the Last Time (probably their most unabashedly romantic sounding track) that show them stretching a bit. But then plenty of songs fit into a formula. Is there a more prototypical National song than Graceless? Not that I think that's necessarily a bad thing. I really like the album too.
I'm not sure it's much of a change. Daughters of the Soho Riots, Val Jester, City Middle, half of Boxer, Runaway are examples of songs with minimal instrumentation, most of which resign Devendorf to the sidelines (though because he's so good he still kills). I really like Exile Vilify but I don't think it's that much different. I listened to Graceless before and I see what you mean but I think that undersells it a bit. I'd say Don't Swallow the Cap is more the blueprint for National tunes, maybe, but that's a great song too, I love it.

Maybe it's just the time I got into The National (a few months before High Violet came out) but I vastly prefer those records to Alligator and Boxer. I still listen to both all the way through whereas I can't recall the last time I did that for its predecessors. Alligator because the track listing/sequencing is so fucked, Boxer because it gets really boring after Apartment Story, even before that. just in my opinion. So even if some of the songs from the last two albums are very much of a well-established The National "sound", I don't care, because most of the songs are very, very good. (I'll agree on Anyone's Ghost, though. I don't dislike the song but it's pretty easily my least favourite off High Violet, maybe alongside Runaway.)

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I don't even mind the band not changing their sound, per se (and they aren't likely to, except in the gradual sense of evolving production choices/instrumental embellishments over the years). But I'd like Matt to be taken out the back and given a bit of a talking to vis a vis lyrical subject matter. Another album of hyper-insular love-gone-sour songs with nary a detour, like Trouble Will Find Me, could be a dealbreaker. On that note, his little EL VY side project or whatever it's called, shows some promise, a little bit of piss and vinegar for a change, even if I find it musically pretty lightweight.
See I disagree. Part of the reason Trouble Will Find Me is my favourite National record is because it was the first one of theirs I really connected with lyrically. I think it's astonishing look at anxiety, not sure whether Matt has a condition or anything but I think it's a brilliant record, lyrically. It's hyper-insular, I will pay that, but love-gone-sour sells it short; there's a lot of tremendous lyrics on it that deal with anxiety. I mean take I Need My Girl - I wouldn't rate it in the top half of songs on the album but it's anxiety captured in a song, from the music to the lyric - get me out of this fucking social situation and let me hug my girl before I have a massive panic attack. I really, truly love it.

But then I also see the argument against their sound. It is well-established and well-honed now, and another album of "lukewarm midtempo" tracks might hurt them. Maybe they'd be served well by incorporating some of their live embellishments, like Matt's scream, into their next record?

I can't wait for the EL VY record for the reasons people have mentioned though. Should make a very nice change of pace from The National.
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:29 AM   #64
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El Vy record has already leaked.

And I agree with Cobbler that Boxer starts to get dull, but Start a War is still great. Afterwards... it is a pretty anti-climactic effort, despite the fact that some of their greatest tracks are on that album.
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:31 AM   #65
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The trouble with the Boxer-gets-boring meme is that 'Gospel' is one of my favourite National songs. If you look at the lyrics, it's actually incredibly creepy.
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:34 AM   #66
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I can't remember how Gospel goes, to be fair.

I should also have mentioned that both Alligator and Boxer contain some truly tremendous songs. Obviously you all know that but I just wanted it clear I'm not a philistine
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:35 AM   #67
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The live versions of Squalor Victoria are so good that they actually made me end up enjoying the studio version.
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:36 AM   #68
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Absolutely noted.

I dunno, it really is a matter of horses for courses. I probably bounce off the later Trouble Will Find Me Stuff because it's tooooo personal, and completely removed from any reference or allusion to the wider world or culture (not that I have any illusions that they are or were a political band as such).
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:53 AM   #69
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But you prefer the outward look at friends' shitty lives of, say, Bloodbuzz Ohio to the super personal I'm-sorry-bro mea culpa of, say, of I Should Live in Salt?
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:57 AM   #70
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The trouble with the Boxer-gets-boring meme is that 'Gospel' is one of my favourite National songs. If you look at the lyrics, it's actually incredibly creepy.
Plus, Ada is the second to last track. I fucking love that song.

Heard El Vy's record. Really enjoyable, but it might not appeal to all National fans. It sounds like Spoon got a keyboard player and replaced Britt Daniel with Matt. I like it.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:02 AM   #71
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But you prefer the outward look at friends' shitty lives of, say, Bloodbuzz Ohio to the super personal I'm-sorry-bro mea culpa of, say, of I Should Live in Salt?

Um... Neither, maybe? I don't like Bloodbuzz Ohio very much. Now a song like Afraid of Everyone or Lemonworld, now we're cooking.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:27 AM   #72
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The trouble with the Boxer-gets-boring meme is that 'Gospel' is one of my favourite National songs. If you look at the lyrics, it's actually incredibly creepy.
I always thought it was just about some old couple enjoying life together but I've never studied them atttentively.

On The National in general, if they keep writing good songs I won't care if they're evolving their sound or not. So far they've managed to do that which is pretty amazing. I'd definitely welcome more songs in the vein of Humiliation though. The krautrock beat along with Matt's lyrics works so well. That song could have another couple of verses and I wouldn't get tired of it.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:29 AM   #73
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I feel the same way, it could go six, seven minutes and I'd still dig it.


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Old 10-19-2015, 08:08 AM   #74
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I always thought it was just about some old couple enjoying life together but I've never studied them atttentively.

.
"I've got two armfuls of magazines for you"... I think that does not mean what it sounds like. Or rather it does, but in that other way.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:47 AM   #75
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Another album full of lukewarm midtempo tracks that sound like Anyone's Ghost and Don't Swallow the Cap could really hurt their career.
I think that depends on what you mean by their career. Perhaps there would be some critical malaise, but this band is undeniably on the upswing in terms of popular appeal. The crowd at their show I saw in July was a radically different and more diverse group than what I saw a year ago and certainly two years ago. Another album like Trouble... is primed to launch them into Arcade Fire levels of popularity, I think.
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