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If you’re a fan of The National, or even just a casual observer of the internets, you’ve no doubt come across a review or two of their latest offering High Violet.

Though it was released in May, it’s taken me ages to get to the point where I can cobble together a post about this album. It took me many, many listens before I could work out whether I liked it or not. It seemed darker or thicker than their previous offerings, the melodies wouldn’t stick in my head and I just didn’t get it.

I think part of the problem was that I’d heard a few songs prior to the full album. With some bands and releases this isn’t a such a big deal, but in this case, hearing these songs out of context meant that I’d already formed opinions without hearing the whole thing. Big, big mistake! Huge.

I think one of the first tracks I heard was ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ and I remember really, really hating it. ‘This is not The National!’ I thought. As the sixth track on the album though, following immediately after the gradual build and explosion of ‘Afraid Of Everyone’, it’s an absolute stunner. It’s been a long time since I heard two songs blend so seamlessly together.

Afraid of Everyone – The National

Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National


Now, it’s an album that I can’t get enough of. It’s a rare week when I haven’t listened to it two or three times in a single sitting, and I can’t believe that it took so long for it to click. All the classic National themes are there – dark humour, gloomy introspection, loss, anxiety, confusion, despair.

Album highlights? Well, it’s hard to go past the ‘Afraid Of Everyone’/’Bloodbuzz’ combination, but I love the slow burn of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ as well, and the line about inventing ‘a summer lovin’ torture party’ in ‘Lemonworld’ is pretty fantastic. I love ‘Sorrow’ too, despite its less than happy sentiments. Bugger it, I love the whole damn thing!

And, thanks to my obsessive website checking and a heads up from a friend, I discovered that The National, in addition to doing the Oz music festival circuit this summer, are also playing at The Palais in Melbourne and I’ve got tickets!! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be seeing them again. I’m sure it will be equally as good as last time, although the change in venue will probably make for a slightly different atmosphere I think. At least this time I’ll be able to see!

The January 9 date is sold out now, but a second Palais show has just been announced. Presale tickets are available from 5pm Thursday 21st October, with general tickets on sale Friday 22nd October at 12pm. Click here for more info.

(Image via Claus.com – check out their excellent album review here)

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