Sleep Well Beast
By far my most reliable band for 12 years, a new album by The National is a major highlight in my listening life. And it has been a while; 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me has certainly sustained its worth, and Alligator, Boxer and High Violet will always hold high status in my collection. So 2017 finds the usually paranoid and deeply contemplative band in Trump’s America. They make no secret of their political sidings, having played at Barack Obama’s inauguration and a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. No surprise then that they’re not feeling great. Matt Berninger’s usual drizzly vocal holds new spit and venom for the incredulity within which he finds himself on “Turtle Neck” and gravelly gloom on “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and closing track “Sleep Well Beast”. The irony isn’t lost on the band that in the age of high paranoia and restlessness they inhabit, they themselves are far from endangered. As middle class, mid-western, middle aged and relentlessly white, they are furthest away from Trump’s great guidebook of malice. However, they cannot stand by and not pass judgement and share their depths of despair at the state of the once great nation. Indeed, they trace a direct line back to the “Fake Empire” of George W Bush and his contribution to the madness of “alternative facts” and the “fake news media” in sentinel and repeatedly rewritten track “Walk It Back”. Drawing parallels with politics to faltering human relationships is a defining strength, and “Born to Beg” and “Guilty Party” mirror the sentiments of divorce and desperation to just existing in Trump’s America. Pity the educated liberals; they keep finding out they are the minority.
GET THIS: Something like a protest, something like an apology, everything still to love.
Both albums available on iTunes. David Doig is a Havelock North GP. His email is email@example.com