THE ABSTRACT: In “First Two Pages of Frankenstein,” The National return to form.

Originating from Brooklyn, New York, the esteemed indie rock band, The National, is back in the limelight with their ninth studio album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, released on April 28. Showcasing a well-blended mix of melancholy and maturity, the album signifies the band’s evolution from their grungier ’00s beginnings and their return to their roots following their 2019 release, “I Am Easy To Find.”

The National, known for their moody compositions and literate, cerebral lyrics, delve into deep emotional territories in this album, featuring themes of breakups, nostalgia, and personal struggles. Matt Berninger, the brooding frontman, along with his bandmates, weaves narratives of loss, love, and human growth in their latest work.

The track “Eucalyptus” stands out, depicting the emotional turmoil of a couple dividing their shared possessions post-breakup. In a tone of refusal and regret, Berninger sings, “You should take it, ’cause I’m not gonna take it,” displaying an almost childlike denial of the painful reality. His baritone voice resonates with the listeners, captivating them with the rawness of his emotions.

Another highlight, “New Order T-shirt,” offers a nostalgic trip into a past relationship, presenting fragmented yet cherished memories of times spent together. Despite the pain connected to the past, the song underscores the natural progression of human growth and acceptance of past experiences.

The album features a host of collaborating artists, including Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens, and Phoebe Bridgers. However, they exist mainly in the backdrop, supporting Berninger’s lead. Swift’s contribution to “The Alcott” adds a gentle lightness to the album, reflecting the hopeful possibility of rekindling a past romance.

“Your Mind Is Not Your Friend,” featuring Bridgers, offers an intimate insight into Berninger’s struggle with mental illness. Inspired by the opening pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the song explores themes of disconnection and despair, providing a comforting reminder that such struggles are not solely individual experiences.

Despite some tracks like “Tropic Morning News” and “Alien” not hitting the same poetic high as others, the album ends on an uplifting note with “Send For Me.” It reassures listeners that not all emotional bonds end in heartache, instead often evolving into support and love.

First Two Pages of Frankenstein, with its blend of emotional depth, nostalgic charm, and mature introspection, demonstrates that The National’s three-year hiatus was worth the wait. As the album takes listeners on a poignant journey through life’s ups and downs, it stands as a testament to the band’s musical evolution and their innate ability to connect with the human experience.

Purchase a copy of First Two Pages of Frankenstein on vinyl, CD, or digital.

WORDS: brice.

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