Sleep Well Beast is The National’s seventh studio album, and much like their previous albums they’re here to deliver us sadness by way of dreamy, layered music and moody lyrics. Many people either find this band brilliant, or utterly boring. And the easiest way for you to find out where you fall on the spectrum is to ask yourself this, “Do you like The Smiths?” Because if you do, then you’ll love the melancholy found in The National’s songs, but if you don’t, then you may feel like the suicidal-charged baritone of leadsinger Matt Berninger to be too much to deal with.
Usually all of The National’s albums are compared to Alligator because it was considered brilliant, and so subsequent albums have always had to try to outdo that one.
Like most successful bands, The National have found their winning formula, and it’s the following: Berninger’s tragic baritone voice half-singing half-murmuring anxiety-ridden lyrics over soft guitar chords, piano, rhythmic drumming, with a dash of strings and horns thrown in the mixture.
Now, Sleep Well Beast sorta sticks to this same formula as the previous albums on pretty much the majority of the tracks. Although some tracks have been amped up a little and feature a faster tempo with some subtle shouting ala Mr. November or Available, especially on the track Turtleneck where Berninger candidly let’s up know that he keeps the weed next to his bed.
Some of the strongest tracks from the album are Carin At The Liquor Store, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, Walk It Back, and Day I Die. To say this is record is dark and bleak is an understatement. It’s almost like watching the dissolving of a relationship, but trying not to be outwardly destructive about it, although you’re feeling like vomiting your heart as a way to get rid of your weakest organ.
This album is best for those who don’t mind drowning in sorrow and befalling some serious dose of emotion sickness. If you’re looking for something to cheer you up, look elsewhere. You’ll only find sadness in its purest, most beautiful, and bleakest form here.
Life is sad, and The National are here to remind us of that. But there’s a strange beauty in the sadness. We almost don’t mind feeling so depressed.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
By: Azzurra Nox