High Violet - The National
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. The National should give faith to anyone who has become disillusioned with indie music, anyone who misses a time where it didn't seem like all the musicians thought they were better than you and you could actually relate to the damn words they were singing. High Violet is another batch of cement to further supplement The National's already unshakable concrete career.
  2. It's exceptionally crafted, it's gorgeously composed and it's remarkably rendered by a band that might just be the very best we have today.
  3. With High Violet, The National has graduated from being a critic's band. Now it belongs to everyone.
  4. Dec 20, 2010
    90
    The National's latest is easily up there with the very best indie-rock records of the year.
  5. An easy grandeur is present throughout, as is a sense they are following an increasingly individual, carefully textured path. It is a wild, vivid romance that The National make their own, and on High Violet it sounds just as striking, just as wild, just as vivid as ever.
  6. Its charms are subtle, its grip soft and easily shrugged by those who choose to pay it only passing attention. Live with it a while, though, and High Violet rewards patience with songs that colour one's waking existence, becoming vivid night-time narratives when curtains are drawn.
  7. All the band's elements coalesce in a remarkably cohesive way to elicit the desired moods.
  8. By embracing immediacy and toning down the navel-gazing, The National have finally created an album deserving of all their earlier acclaim.
  9. The National have pulled off a neat trick here - an immediate, commercial album that grows with each listen. While High Violet is patently as good as its antecedents, it is also very much its own beast.
  10. High Violet is an expertly handled balancing of the airy and the dense, and nowhere is that better exemplified than on the triumphant "England."
  11. From its painstaking production to its dense lyrical constructs to its mammoth choruses, High Violet is likely to be one of the year's best.
  12. Though no less anthemic in its last-call loneliness, the National's sound expands with measured confidence while still nurturing bruised ethos.
  13. The pleasure is in listening to how often the National scrapes up close to maudlin, only to retreat in the nick of time.
  14. High Violet is the sound of a band taking a mandate to be a meaningful rock band seriously, and they play the part so fully that, to some, it may be off-putting. But these aren't mawkish, empty gestures; they're anxious, personal songs projected onto wide screens.
  15. High Violet synthesizes the best parts of the National's past into a fantastic present
  16. Though High Violet sometimes ("Lemonworld," cough) veers dangerously close to self-parody, the National have crafted something exceptional: a massive, dynamic album that still makes good on the National's devotion to meticulous production and a sound they've kept simple and distinctive for a decade.
  17. Despite all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it (and boasting some admittedly rad cover art) their latest record is consistent in quality with their, er, lesser-selling efforts.
  18. Their fifth album High Violet is slow to blossom; its sumptuous layers and stately pace can feel almost funereal, and frontman Matt Berninger often sounds badly in need of Paxil. But Violet eventually burrows in, and stays.
  19. Though High Violet lacks the front-to-back consistency that made Boxer such an unmitigated revelation, the new album's peaks absolutely rival Boxer's best tracks.
  20. Goddamn it's taken a while, but with 'High Violet' The National's slow and steady evolution can no longer be ignored. This lot are fully grown-up, coloured in and going overground.
  21. The songs might be helmed by waves of guitar fuzz (their self-styled 'loose wool' sound) and dissonance, but the gentle orchestration provided by long-time collaborator Padma Newsome and the defiantly tough, robotic drumming of Bryan Devendorf give these songs a warm, phosphorescent glow.
  22. 80
    At the peak moments of High Violet, The National are magnificent. [Jun 2010, p.78]
  23. High Voilolet features 11 tracks; five are good, six extraordinary. [Jun 2010, p.116]
  24. 80
    That's the National's insidious brilliance: No other band makes dark and stormy seem like ideal weather.
  25. Crafted from humming guitars, tinkling pianos, militaristic drumming and occasional orchestration, their fifth album is beautifully subtle and grows in power with each listen.
  26. The weakest link is Lemonworld, which trips itself up on too many thoughts. But the rest of this misery tour? Masterful.
  27. Overall, High Violet feels more like a protecting-the-franchise record than a new phase in the National's sound. And yet, even so, a handful of its songs rank with the band's very best.
  28. The National continues to impress as songwriters of specificity, too, telling tales that feel granular in detail, whether they're about romances dashed or paranoid minds blown.
  29. High Violet's greatness, above beyond the fact that it's a gorgeously arranged and performed set of songs of surprising tensile strength and grace, is that it rests its finger on some uncomfortably relevant truths about life after you no longer have the mental, physical, social or emotional wherewithal to spend every night at the bar and leaving the Silver City for somewhere quieter starts seeming like a good move.
  30. High Violet is a fine album, a very, very solid effort that contains some marvelous storytelling and near perfect execution. There are no faults to speak of. But that electricity, that fly by the seat of your pants thrill is something that eludes The National.
  31. scular, miserable, mighty, and meandering, High Violet aims for the seats, but only hits about half of them.
  32. Singer Matt Berninger's gorgeous baritone is still the band's main selling point....Yet the tension comes mainly from composers Aaron and Bryce Dessner.
  33. High Violet sees no need to tinker with a successful formula, and because of that it's less a step forward than a refined restatement of well-known strengths.
  34. Bleak as you like, but strangely cathartic in many places, it's absolutely the worst album to soundtrack your Christmas lottery win. For the rest of us dour wageslaves, it's perfect.
  35. 60
    American indie cult heroes get a little noisier, a little more obscure [June 2010, p. 104]
  36. Good, but I can't get behind the voice.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 214 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 62
  2. Negative: 2 out of 62
  1. May 21, 2011
    10
    A beautifully crafted, artistic, understated album. The National claim that they sometimes can change around a song up to 50 times, such is their desire to perfect the music they make. It definitely shows on this album with subtle instrumentation blending together to form gorgeous melodies in which Mr Berningers haunting baritone vocals accompany. A small minority of people claim this album has been falsely hyped by hipster mags and music elitists but don't believe it for a second. This is often the problem when an album understates itself the way this does, people are too quick to toss it a side. Full Review »
  2. Jul 10, 2011
    9
    Beautiful, very evocative of something sour and bitter without ever getting dull.
  3. Oct 6, 2010
    0
    I didn't like Bauhaus the first time around...and at least they had a better drummer. Mumblecore? Yes, that's about right. If this is "the best we have today" then the bar has been lowered drastically. Full Review »