The National album High Violet

At some point over the last three months I lost track of this brilliant album.  This album that will probably sit at or toward to the top of most year end lists five months from now.  The odd part is that I literally listened to this album on repeat for over a full month.  I listened to it so much that my fiance (now my wife) groaned every time we took my car anywhere because it was literally all The National all the time.

So what happened?  And why review it now when it’s a already old news?  It’s because I forgot about this album.  It’s not that I forgot it existed or that I grew bored with it.  In fact I’m listening to it right now and it’s still solid from start to end.  It was rather the album is so good, so instantly timeless, that my subconscious filed it away with albums I’ve loved over the last 15 years of my life.  Now bear with me because this is where my review turns more personal anecdote, but it’s my blog, I pay the bills, so I’m allowed to indulge occasionally.

As part of getting married (about two weeks ago) I moved to a new location which requires a 40 minute commute to work each day.  This commute, although frustrating in that I have to commute at all, is very relaxing for me personally and has allowed me to listen to a new album, all they way through, twice a day.  To be honest it’s the most dedicated music listening I’ve been able to spend in the last three or four months combined.  And on these trips I decided to take a tour through my old favorites.  I started with Sufjan Stevens’ Greetings from Michigan.  Then I moved on to the Smashing Pumpkins album Adore, followed by Page France with Come I’m a Lion, and Radiohead’s Kid A.  For good measure I listened The Weakerthan’s Reunion Tour before rocking on with Weezer’s The Blue Album followed immediately by Weezer’s Pinkerton.

Most of these albums sit similarly in my brain on two levels.  First they’re great albums which I’ve loved for a long time.  Secondly, by some freak of memory, I still know almost every lyric to every track on all of those albums.  At some point, somewhere deep into this trip into my high school and university musical infatuations it hit me, I realized that my brain had already catalogued the latest album from The National, High Violet (amazon) (itunes), as “music that is inherently so well put together I’ll still like it 5, 10, and 20 years from now.”  I hadn’t forgotten about this musical masterpiece I had simply assumed that anything that sounds as complete as High Violet does must be filed away separately from all other current albums.

mp3 : The National – Runaway
mp3 : The National – Conversation 16

By far Conversation 16 is my favorite track on the album – it speaks of zombies and being afraid, what more do you need?  The rest of the song are brilliant in their own way, and yet together the 11 songs on High Violet find a way to combine for an even greater musical experience.  Everyone alive should hear this album at least once.

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4 thoughts on “The National album High Violet”

  1. Conversation 16 was my favorite track, too.

    Additionally: I’m jealous of your album-length commute. I used to have one of those, but no more.


  2. Why would you limit yourself from reviewing albums that are “old”? If anything it would help everyone examine more throughly why they like the classics. I sometimes wish Rolling Stone would devote themselves to do second reviews of great albums so that we could more fully analyze why we like great albums. Literature professors continually bring up the classics, why can’t music reviewers? Perhaps this is my own personal beef with the music reviewers, but thanks for writing about this one.


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