The Top 50 Albums of the Year… #31 THE NATIONAL “High Violet”
31. THE NATIONAL “High Violet”
HURTS may be responsible for the most depressing record of the year, but The National’s fifth long player comes in at a very close second. From the darkened halls of album opener, the aptly titled “Terrible Love”, to the throw-me-off-a-cliff balladry and lyrical excellence of “Sorrow” (in which Matt Berringer sings the heartbreaking line “Sorrow found me when I was young. Sorrow waited, sorrow won. Sorrow that put me on the pills, It’s in my honey it’s in my milk. It’s only about half a heart alone. On the water, Cover me in rag and bones, sympathy. Cause I don’t wanna get over you. I don’t wanna get over you.”), “High Violet” is high in sadness and equally so in brilliance.
“Anyone’s Ghost” continues the lyrical relevance and beauty – also serving as Violet’s best song – where Berringer coos with a vocal self-assurance similar to that of Roy Orbison; “Didn’t wanna be your ghost, didn’t wanna be anyone’s ghost. But I don’t want anybody else.” It’s hard not to really feel these songs; they’re so emotionally personal and raw – something The National have been incredibly good at on their albums in the past – you can’t help but notice the beauty of it all seeping into your ears.
There’s really strong production elements on here; things sound eerier than usual for The National when needed, and cuts like the vulnerable “Afraid Of Everyone” and “Conversation 16″ sound grittier and somewhat anthemic in comparison to stuff on their previous records.
I was never what you’d call a massive fan of The National, but “High Violet” – with its uncomfortably confronting lyrics about love and heartbreak - certainly changed that in 2010.