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Move over Morrissey, there's a new Pope of Mope; his name is Matt Berninger, lead singer and lyricist for the National, whose latest CD, High Violet, might be more aptly titled High Anxiety.

Vocally and lyrically, Berninger suggests the love child of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. "Terrible love/and I'm walking with spiders," Berninger sings on opener "Terrible Love," his subdued pipes rising midway on a Phil Spector–like wall of sound. "Sorrow found me when I was young/sorrow waited, sorrow won," he intones on the second track, "Sorrow," adding "Cover me in rag and bone, sympathy/'cause I don't want to get over you."

With twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitars, and brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf on drums and bass, the National lays down mostly spare, minor-key melodies, embellished by horn and string arrangements, along with selective electronica. "Bloodbuzz Ohio" picks-up the tempo, with drums and piano driving the mix, as Berninger drones, "I was carried to Ohio/in a swarm of bees."

Warning: Repeated listening to High Violet may cause humanities majors to excessively consume skinny lattes, smoke too many imported cigarettes, and write bad poetry on their MacBooks.

  • Album: High Violet (2010)
  • Artist: The National
  • Label: 4AD
  • Songs: (1) Terrible Love (2) Sorrow (3) Anyone's Ghost (4) Little Faith (5) Afraid of Everyone (6) Bloodbuzz Ohio (7) Lemonworld (8) Runaway (9) Conversation 16 (10) England (11) Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
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