Updated: Apr 28
Ohio's own The National are back with their ninth studio after having given audiences their signature sounds of heartbreak and love for more than twenty years. Lead singer Matt Berninger noted that when it came to coming up with work for First Two Pages of Frankenstein, for much of the beginning of the process the acclaimed group came up empty. Berninger noted that the group had even come to fear that this may be the end of their run as a group.
Whereas on past records, the band had argued amongst themselves in their creative process, they decided with this record to instead savor each other's friendship. It was this motivation that they used to work toward what would become First Two Pages of Frankenstein. “At some point there was a feeling of all of us leaning into each other in a new way that ultimately allowed everyone to do what they do best,” said guitarist/pianist/bassist Aaron Dessner via press release.
The result is a revitalized effort from the group. While we've always been fans of The National's work, there have been naysayers out there. The album features a guest list to die for including Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, and Sufjan Stevens. While the guest list is great, it's really just icing on the cake. The end result is Berninger and company confronting the realities of isolation, floating adrift, and the potential end of their careers as they knew it. "Grease In Your Hair", especially on the drums is most reminiscent of The National's GRAMMY Award winning triumph Sleep Well Beast.
For an album that is releasing in April, this very much feels like a winter album. We can imagine taking walks, peering at the barren trees and landscape as the wind hits our face with this album as our soundtrack (see "Ice Machines"). Though it is worth noting that the album does end on a hopeful track with "Send For Me". For fans of The National, First Two Pages of Frankenstein is a must. For the rest of the alt crowd out there, you shouldn't sleep on this one. It has high potential as an Album of the Year pick. While the band rolled out the red carpet with Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers (on not one but two tracks!), and Sufjan Stevens and that alone is worth the price of admission. You really should come for the party overall, the band is really good.
Rating - 5/5