The National: “First Two Pages Of Frankenstein” – Timid Variations (Review & Stream)

Matt Berninger is always a little confused. He stumbles through life, his hair disheveled, a bit depressed, a bit horny, he’s read books, his back hurts, he writes poems in his notebook. The English professor who starts dating a student. This has been Berninger’s persona ever since The National became darlings of the music press in the early noughties. Great albums such as “Alligator”, “Boxer” and “High Violet” emerged from the combination of Berninger’s baritone, the artistic chamber indie rock of the Dessner brothers and the driving rhythm section of the Devendorf brothers.

There is no attractive whole

So here’s the first The National record in four years, the first since Aaron Dessner became a blockbuster producer through his work with Taylor Swift. And she disappointed. There are tentative variations on the familiar sound: less electric guitars, less warmth, more digital clarity in the production, more drum machines shimmering around. But “First Two Pages Of Frankenstein” isn’t really a strong album. The work was obviously very difficult, and Berninger was blocked by a depressive episode. In the band’s narrative, the record is the ultimate triumph over these adverse circumstances.

It sounds more like their expression. Berninger seems tired, his songwriting is sometimes the pointed interior view of a depression (“This Isn’t Helping”, “Ice Machines”), but more often it is unfocused and almost arbitrary. He strings confessions and images together in hopes of creating meaning. But it doesn’t result in an attractive whole.

Dessner doesn’t do this record any favors either. His smooth, clinical sound aesthetic robs the songs of what they have in power, and even a dramatic, distorted crescendo, which is sure to have a strong effect at concerts, tends to fizzle out on the album (“Eucalyptus”). Dessner filters the instruments – including Berninger’s voice, The National’s most valuable instrument – through flattening effect devices. No band plays together here, five people play side by side. Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers unobtrusively join the cast with guest appearances. But then, the last song, “Send For Me” is really good.


Fenne Lily :: “Big Picture” trend: sadness

A depressed young Brit, like Phoebe Bridgers never happened

Temples :: “Exotico” – catchy tune

The psychedelic rock Brits are going even more in the direction of pop.

Ghost Woman :: “Anne, If” – Tired of nostalgia

The Canadian overdoes it with the sixties references.


Boygenius: ROLLING STONE is giving away two big fan packages

Boygenius are coming to Germany – in order to be well equipped for the concert, we are giving away two different fan packages. I wish you success!

“the film”: Boygenius and Kristen Stewart show video for “the record”

Together with the album released today (March 31), the Rolling Stone cover heroines from March are showing a nearly 15-minute video. The three music videos that were cut together were shot by Kristen Stewart.

“Eucalyptus”: The National release music video for third release of “First Two Pages of Frankenstein”.

The indie band will release their new album on April 28th. Now they have presented the third release from it.