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Out of the darkness

So of course 2017 was a year full of club bangerz that everybody loved and praised all over the internet already, but I thought Cognizant Machine would highlight one of my top five albums of 2017 which may have slipped under your personal radar.  The band is called The National – and the album is “Sleep Well Beast”.  Now this album won a grammy for best alternative music album at the 60th grammy awards, and yet I still can’t shake this feeling that more people need to listen to the National.

When it comes to Indie Rock certain riffs and progressions are often repeated or slightly changed up but I am not complaining about that. The opening track from the album “Day I Die” is perfect mixtape fodder, it could easily pump up an ambient indie mixtape and feels like a lost track from a movie soundtrack.  The lyrics are clever though and the hook is pleasant to listen too, and while the song structure is simple and repetitive, it is brilliantly performed and the guitars and technical acumen in the song are impressive, the drums chop up the song nicely, and the breakdown fits like a jigsaw puzzle piece perfectly leading back into the hook.

the fourth track on the album is worth the price of the album by itself.  “The System only sleeps in total darkness” is just a great pop song.  Every piece of the song from the sparse piano that only highlights the unstoppable guitar that sputters and wails to a beat only this band could write, to the drums that push through all the wacky solos with fills, and tight rhythm.  The whole song sounds slightly discombobulated but it works in a primal  ephemeral way and when tied together with the powerful lyrics, the system that lead singer Matt Berninger croons of, seems as real and controlling as any real world major metropolitan city.

This whole album is amazing, the production values don’t over power the music, “Sleep Well Beast” just feels incredibly polished and clean shaven.  The music is deeply affecting and the songwriting is never lazy nor phoned in, just when a song seems played out a new breakdown or bridge will start and then when all is said and done,  The National capture an epoch of time with their music and describe in grandiose fashion what Pop music is still capable of.

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1 reply »

  1. I totally agree that ‘Sleep Well Beast’ was one of the best albums of 2017, and “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” one of the best singles (it placed #4 on my year-end list). Sadly, I was not very familiar with The National until this album came out. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do! I liked “Return to the Moon” from El Vy, not realizing it was also Matt Berninger from The National. I love his sublime vocals.

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