The iconic purveyors of moody indie rock, The National, are back with news of their ninth studio album entitled ‘First Two Pages of Frankenstein’, out through 4AD and Remote Control Records. The eleven-song album was produced by The National at Long Pond Studios in upstate New York and features guest appearances by Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens.
As an amuse bouche to whet our appetites, the first single ‘Tropic Morning News’ has been released. This is an upbeat song that canters along with a high-stepping beat and Matt Berninger’s distinctive vocals that ache and yearn in a deeply expressive tone. Softened by a sweep of strings, the motorik beat creates a forward motion with trademark arching choruses.
Partly recorded live in Hamburg, the song merges its mercurial textures and kinetic rhythms with a lush yet subtle grandeur achieved through Bryce Dessner’s work with the London Contemporary Orchestra. Aaron Dessner says:
When Matt came in with that song in the depths of his depression, it felt like a turning point for us. It’s almost Dylan-esque in its lyrics and it’s so much fun to play; everything suddenly felt like it was coming alive again.
Co-written with Berninger’s wife Carin Besser, ‘Tropic Morning News’ takes its title from a phrase Besser invented to describe the regrettably routine practice of doomscrolling. Berninger says:
The idea of referring to the darkness of the news in such a light way unlocked something in me. It became a song about having a hard time expressing yourself, and trying to connect with someone when the noise of the world is drowning out any potential for conversation.
It is classic The National: anthemic and moving:
Feature Photograph: Josh Goleman