The National released a grave new rock song titled “Day I Die” on Tuesday. The track will appear on the group’s seventh LP, Sleep Well Beast, out September 8th on the label 4AD.
Lead singer Matt Berninger is mournful but defiant from the opening lines of “Day I Die”: “I don’t need you/ I don’t need you,” he sings. “Besides, I barely ever see you anymore/ And when I do, it feels like you’re only halfway there.” Bryan Devendorf conjures a rub-a-dub barrage behind Berninger on the drums, and the brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner contribute piercing shards of noise with their guitars.
The video for the track is compiled from approximately 5,000 black-and-white time-lapse photos of the band rehearsing. Berninger sings from a chair, with one leg crossed over the other, checks his phone in between takes and adjusts his glasses. The pictures were taken by Graham MacIndoe, with the clip directed by Casey Reas.
Speaking with Rolling Stone recently, Berninger said he had long been interested in songs about doomed relationships. “I was singing about a trouble marriage way before I met my wife,” he explained. “There’s a lot of stuff about relationships [on this album]… it’s not so specifically about my marriage, but [about] the idea of commitment and relationships and the evolution of relationships is woven throughout [Sleep Well Beast].”
He also articulated his “mission statement” as an artist: “Be as kind to my friends and family as I can and be as brave as I can. And make some art. And have fun.”