Before writing about The National’s new Album “Sleep Well Beast” I have to fully disclose they are one my favorite bands and so I will never be impartial when speaking about them. However I also don’t intend to, nor we ever do in Musically Speaking. Matt’s voice is transcendent and the way they produce melodies is just to beautiful and organically for me not to love it. In this case is also helpful to be impartial since my knowledge of this band is as well greater due to this passion. Finally I should also disclose I hated the only time I saw them live. Not only the audience, as well the venue and Matt’s specific performance that night were not what I expected from such a pacific band. And this just intrigued me more and made me appreciate them with more depth.
With every released single along the Summer when anticipating this new work they were getting their audience more curious and mainly anxious. However it was when listening to the new full compendium of songs as a whole that we fully acknowledge the enormous quality of this new album. With “Nobody Else Will Be There” they add little new elements to what we have previously heard “Trouble Will Find Me”. However in “The Day I Die” We already can hear to a more experimental Rock approach that adds more distortion to this constant sorrow present in their music. A darker lyricism associated to lighter tones of the guitar that contrast perfectly with this more chaotic approach to their Rock sound.
However this futuristic approach to their new music is totally revealed in “Walk It Back” which is more of a statement that opens then this new Era of The National that picks up all their latter perfect elements and adds a touch of computation that blends in quite organically. The transformation of their sound is then complete in “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” which in my opinion and clearly the public’s is the best remark from this work with a perfect equilibrium between this new approach and all the other elements from the drums perfect transitioning from chorus to bridges as well as Matt’s vocals pushed to an octave higher and there “I can’t explain it any other way” how great this song came out.
Matt’s double personality, from the studio to the stage, tends to unite in one in this new work with him looking more for a way of staying alive they actually enjoying life. Highly resembled in “Born to Beg” that couldn’t be sadder in a hopeless and disruptive way. The transformation is completed with “Turtleneck” a perfect demonstration on what The National can turn after Matt and the band share a couple of bottles of Red Wine. However as this one was recorded in studio it just turned up to be a great Alternative-Progressive-Rock song that totally does not fit in the album however is its boldest statement and I absolutely love it.
Finally there two songs that stay in every fans heart and probably will remain for the historial of this album greatness and progressiveness. “Guilty Party” for then again being a successful demonstration of this transitory process of personality alteration of the band. More than that their love messages keep bearing the dark sorrow they always did and that is fulcral part of their secret recipe, to feed the dark pleasures of the soul. And “Carin at The Liquour Store” is the most beautiful love letter of the album as well as its most incredible piano line. Pure delight!
The album ends with the homonymous song to its title which is definitely nothing else than the pure raw recipe of the back bone of this piece of work however it does not have much musical relevance.
I love The National, and this album was one of those moments in relationships when you realize the other person is different, and probably it wont be easy to take it at first. However if you take your time to get it and appreciate these changes, you realize they were necessary and make the other person even more beautiful to your eyes in the end of the day just for the fact that although that person changed, its essence, which is the real reason you loved them the first time, is still there and shines brighter than ever.