The National: High Violet (4AD) [9.5]
I did mention that there was another album from the excellent 4AD record label coming up, so kudos to those who remembered that and predicted this little gem in the top five…
Earlier this year I wrote for the new e-pub fanzine b0t, talking about Boxer, arguably the band’s finest album (and runner-up in 2007) all the while quietly confident that this album would be extremely lucky to finish in my top five of 2010.
When Ian Stackhouse announced this as his number four album (bought) this year (he has different requirements to my list), I was amused, as it was in exactly the same place in mine. Another twenty or so listens to this and Sufjan’s piece confirmed that this was a better album…just.
It’s consistent with their ‘melancholy spiced with optimism’, which I mentioned in my review (linked to above) and sits easily with Boxer and Alligator as a The National great.
I think where I doubted the album initially was in that the opener, Terrible Love, whilst being a decent song in itself, is not up to the high standards I expect from the band. All that changed though with the introduction of Sorrow, easily the best song on the album and later with Bloodbuzz Ohio and England.
Even though England and Sorrow are my absolute favourites I decided to go for Bloodbuzz Ohio, as the video choice, because it’s a cool, cool video and because it’s Ian’s favourite:
The album is everything you want from a quality band. It has cracking lyrics, excellent music, Matt Berninger’s baritone, style and substance and you can’t get much better than them in 2010 (well of course only two have surpassed them…)
[Tune in tomorrow for the 2010 runner-up!]