Latest reviews

Album Review

Return to the Moon

October 29, 2015

"I ain't no Leonard Cohen," sings Matt Berninger, the lead singer of the National, towards the end of his latest album. Indeed, Berninger has gone to lengths to position his new musical detour as more playful, less dour, than his work with the National:...

Album Review

Trouble Will Find Me

May 16, 2013

This is the sound of despair, according to singer Matt Berninger of the National: "If you want to make me cry," he claims early on this record, in "Don't Swallow the Cap," "play Let It Be or Nevermind." It is a surprising admission, given the Brooklyn...

Song Review

"Think You Can Wait"

April 5, 2011

The National have always had a grand cinematic element to their sound, so it's natural to hear them go widescreen for this theme from the film Win Win. With piano, strings and elevating backing vocals, Matt Berninger croons about spiritual struggles:...

Album Review


May 14, 2007

Let's talk about the drummer a minute. Bryan Devendorf's the name. He plays in the National, who do brooding Leonard Cohen-Nick Cave-style melancholy, except he's not brushing the drums elegantly, he's pounding, yet he amps up the piano, strings and guitar....

Song Review

"Don't Swallow the Cap"

April 29, 2013

Brooklyn indie-rock sadsters the National are at their best when they remember to inject some rhythmic drama into their poetically moped-out music. And on this track from their upcoming sixth album (due May 21st), the National chunnel through a dark night...

Album Review

High Violet

May 11, 2010

The National are rousing-rock sad sacks in a time-honored tradition: Joy Division, the Cure, Nick Cave. With their fifth set, perhaps the sad-sackiest yet, they embody their own era. Singer Matt Berninger's gorgeous baritone is still the band's main...

Album Review


April 21, 2005

"I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain," mumbles Matt Berninger, and he spends the rest of this NYC band's third album rummaging among churning grooves and shambling New Wave rips, turning up depressed guitar poetry that's both elegantly...