When we have to face our own demons, it can be hard to lay them to rest no matter how much pain they caused you. The National toy with this idea throughout their new album, somber songs packed with emotion. The National get emotional on Sleep Well Beast as they try to come to terms with their own demons.
Sleep Well Beast is much much oriented on its writing than it is its music. From the very first track, 'Nobody Else Will Be There,' you quickly get a sense of the weight this album carries. The sweet piano and light instrumental carries the song's sorrow, Matt Berninger's vocals broken down as he sadly sings "You said we're not so tied together / What did you mean... Nobody else will be there then." While the song itself is about living a tight life in New York, it can easily be seen as a song about escaping loneliness. The National directly addresses love often on the record, notably in 'Guilty Party,' where Berninger sings of a fictional dissolution of his own marriage the chorus heartbreakingly singing "I say your name, I say I'm sorry / I'm the one doing this / There's no other way, it's nobody's fault / No guilty party / I just got nothing, nothing left to say."
The sound does vary, keeping Sleep Well Beast fluid. 'Day I Die' picks up after the dreary 'Nobody Else Will Be There' leaves off, bringing a more driven and optimistic tone to the song, which is about living life to the fullest. 'The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness' brings a rockier atmosphere to add more flamboyance to the album, after 'Walk It Back' brings a vintage drama to the table. This album never really goes wrong anywhere, except for closing track 'Sleep Well Beast' that just doesn't feel like the right closure to the album. Even to the end of the album when things slow down, the album moves strongly, 'Dark Side Of The Gym' just before the final track adding a dark and sweet element to the mix, the song singing of hope in loneliness.
The National get emotional on Sleep Well Beast as they battle the demons and thoughts in their head. For The National, is seems as if the future is their biggest fear, at least on Sleep Well Beast. This album is a sort of look ahead, should the worst-case scenarios ever come true. For the band until then, and for anyone who needs to hear the messages now or will to, the comfort is laced into all of the songs.
Favorite Tracks: Nobody Else Will Be There, Guilty Party, Dark Side Of The Gym
Least Favorite Track: Sleep Well Beast
Rating: 79 / 100
Stream or buy Sleep Well Beast on Apple Music: