High Violet - The National
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 214 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 8 out of 214

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  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. Expand
  2. 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.
  3. Jul 10, 2011
    9
    Beautiful, very evocative of something sour and bitter without ever getting dull.
  4. Sep 1, 2010
    4
    It is incredibly dull. I bought it without thinking - partly based on the hype and partly based on some nostalgic memory of what a great song Fake Empire was and is. Unfortunately nothing here gets close and their performance at Glastonbury just confirmed that they have had their 15 minutes already.
  5. Aug 11, 2010
    10
    The National have already put together quite the catalogue of fantastic albums, but High Violet is their best yet. It takes the band's generally melancholic sound into even darker territory, making it more powerful than Boxer or even the more energetic Alligator. Songs like "Afraid of Everyone," "Bloodbuzz Ohio," and "Conversation 16" are potent enough to grip you after only one or two listens, but the subtler moments prove equally compelling over time. This album has more goosebump-inducing moments than its predecessors, and if you give it the attention it deserves, High Violet will work its way in and haunt you relentlessly. Easily one of the yearâ Expand
  6. Oct 25, 2011
    8
    Enjoyed this much more than I did "Boxer", but unlike other National albums i found this album to be more immediate than its predecessors which were growers.
  7. Jul 25, 2011
    10
    A quantum leap from Boxer and Alligator, and the best record of 2010 -- a year with a lot of great records. It's hard for me to understand the reviews trashing this but touting Boxer. Boxer was a nice record, but this is miles ahead of it. Check out the 4 new songs on the "expanded edition." Wake Up Your Saints and You Were a Kindness, in particular, are both brilliant.
  8. Mar 16, 2011
    0
    Overrated indie band. Obscure music for sad emo hipsters does not make for good music. The music is mediocre. The hype for this band is awful and pushed by cooler than thou hipsters all over the place.
  9. Feb 20, 2011
    8
    A wonderful little album that mixes alt-country, indie-rock, even a bit of atmosphere for an interesting mix of music. I don't think I could describe this music to a friend, except to say it's like a Midwestern version of Arcade Fire, but perhaps instead I would just say it's fantastic, worth a listen for anyone that enjoys indie rock.
  10. Sep 7, 2010
    9
    The National have come from the depths of nowhere to gigantic indie stardom, and it is well deserved. SS4DL was the stepping stone and Alligator and Boxer got their name off the ground. Now there is expectations for them and they delivered. From the opening guitar of Terrible Love to eery Afraid of Everyone, to the album climax of England, this is a complete band making some of their best music. Its not the great american masterpiece which they will write one day, but its a very good album that will tide me over until they make their masterpiece Expand
  11. Oct 21, 2010
    8
    This album is the most charming of those in The National's discography. The poetry is strong, speaking to the awkward middle-aged socialite in all of us. Though the formula they follow can sometimes have uninteresting results, High Violet does its best to keep us listening by reminding us of just how imperfect we are.
  12. Dec 29, 2010
    10
    I tried to listen to more music this year and get back into the groove of finding good music out there. I tried. I really did. Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Beach House, The Drums. All these critic darlings that do absolutely nothing for me. I like melody. Even as monotone as the vocals of The National can be, the music and production are too elegant to ignore and actually fit well with the vocals.

    From the opening note to the final ambient fade, High Violet takes what was special about The Boxer and takes The National to a level no one came close to in 2010. It simply is the finest collection of compositions recorded in a long time. My personal favorite is "Bloodbuzz Ohio" because of the gorgeous acoustics and charming piano against the powerful drumbeat, all covered in Matt Berninger's haunting baritone vocals. They just don't music like this often enough. Then again, if they did, The National wouldn't seem as special.
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  13. Nov 21, 2010
    10
    I downloaded this album back in june, and promptly put it on my ipod. Until about a week ago i had completely forgotten about it, and had never listened to it all. So about a week ago, i was at work listening to my ipod on shuffle, and the song "little faith" came on. I didnt even know who i was listening to, but i loved it! Since then i've been listening to this album non-stop.
  14. Sep 20, 2010
    10
    The National just keep getting better and better. They haven't put a foot wrong in the whole album. Every song is just perfect. A must listen for everyone.
  15. Sep 30, 2010
    10
    To call this album haunting seems to be an understatement - this album gets better, and darker, with each listen. The best new album I've heard in a while..
  16. Oct 10, 2010
    9
    I'm glad that several of us here have taken it upon themselves to blow the whistle on the National so assuredly. Thanks, guys! You've changed my mind completely! But look: this album will not be a disappointment to anybody who likes the National sound. Is it a perfect album? No. Like many albums this year, it may suffer for being too uniform, a perfectly executed, single note. Lyrically, Berninger throws a lot more haymakers here and not all of them land on target. The album's striking production and melancholy ambience will be exhilerating to many on first listens but can feel claustrophobic quickly. As well: this isn't a sound made to be played live, though the National are heroes for what they are able to do with it. This is my favourite album of the year, though. If you like your eggs a bit more scrambled or a bit less cooked, go somewhere else and listen to the Black Keys or LCD Soundsystem or whatever it is you're so sure is better. No other band this year brought a distinct, slowly building sound to its logical conclusion better than the National. There isn't another album like High Violet. Remember: your favourite band can be summed up in a word or two as well. Expand
  17. Oct 16, 2010
    7
    Certainly not as strong as Boxer or Alligator, but not necessarily more mainstream either. The album only really gets going halfway in after Bloodbuzz Ohio, with a series of fairly obvious and undistinguished melodically songs. Admittedly Bloodbuzz Ohio is a great single, and what follows it is more immediate, but its not enough to make me rate the album higher than this.
  18. Oct 20, 2010
    10
    Hands down the best album of the year! Hauntingly beautiful. It transcends most rock albums of our day. For those that call it overrated,flat ,mumblecore (nonsense) or whatever. Please shake your head, put on the headphones, crank it up and hit repeat.
  19. Nov 5, 2010
    10
    There seems to be an aversion to effort in modern indie-rock, an attitude about making music which usually garners critical acclaim. There is a time and a place for careless low-fi recording, sloppy composition, and inadvertent performance. But earnestness in indie-rock also ought to be celebrated, especially when the result is something as beautifully subtle and complex as "High Violet." The lush sonic landscapes constructed by the brothers Dressner brilliantly balance sheer loveliness and Matt Berninger's eloquent melancholy. An argument can be made for the genius of their entire catalogue as a band, but this record is a rare achievement. Expand
  20. Nov 12, 2010
    9
    There really is nothing quite like this album. I mean, how often are there truly depressive albums? Albums that reach out and tear a soul out for a bit? A tear legitimately rolled down my face the first time I heard this one--that's the physical manifestation of the majesty of this album. I still shiver when the guitars explode onto the scene during "Terrible Love", just as the goosebumps from Matt Berninger's harrowing voice die down.

    The band is a difficult one to fall in love with, which is the only true reason that this is getting negative rating. The only review attached to one of these expresses a state of virginity to this style of indie rock. This post-punk-fueled concentration. The first time I heard the National's Boxer, I felt the exact same way. Flat, boring, mumbling, and overly-pretentious garbage. Left no impact and no impact to be had existed. Clearly, though, that has changed. Give the band another chance. They're much more vibrant than you can immediately recognize.
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  21. Mar 18, 2011
    9
    High Violet is one of a kind. Matt Berninger sings all of his emotions. He feels sorrow, he feels pain, he felt heartbroken. His vocals are amazing. The lyrics are really well and the musicianship is fantastic. The drumming is another thing. Some of the best drumming I've heard in awhile. All In All, The National are definitely a band to be reckoned with. A-
  22. Nov 29, 2010
    10
    album of the year - no one even came close. sure it's sad, but it's funny too. matt berninger's lyrics just keep getting better. this album may take some getting used to and isn't appropriate for party situations, BUT for anyone who understands that this life is bittersweet (fans of "no country for old men" as an example) "high violet" is essential.
  23. Feb 1, 2011
    10
    Inspiring song consistency, and filled with great emotion...all through the use of hushed vocals and instrumentation. The content is so dense it took me a few listens to gain a full appreciation of the work put into this brilliant album.
  24. Jan 11, 2011
    9
    respect for the national, its even better than Boxer. the music is so calm and understanding, one of the best albums of 2010, cant wait for their next album
  25. Apr 21, 2011
    10
    Matt Berninger's delightfully melancholy voice goes perfectly with the moody and gorgeous songs on this album. Although it seems to lack the cohesive force that "Boxer" had, the album is exceptional when each song is taken into consideration. The sounds are apocalyptic, gloomy, and creative. An exceptional work from an exceptional band.
  26. j30
    Jan 26, 2012
    8
    A solid output from The National. In some ways it's more consistent than it's predecessor (The Boxer) mainly in it's sound which is a bit lighter. However I miss the atmosphere of dark, almost bleak atmosphere of Boxer.
  27. Mar 6, 2012
    10
    Brilliant 5th album from the downbeat indie group. The first half of this record is absolutely amazing. Tracks 1-6 are real big hitters as substantial and as good as anything they've put out before. After the storm of Bloodbuzz Ohio - one of the songs of the 2010, there is a bit of calm for the 2nd side of the record. Lemonworld and Runaway slow things down a bit before the final 3 tracks bring us to a memorable finish culminating in Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, one of the worst titled songs I've come across, but a great closing track to one of the great albums of recent times. Perfect in length, well balanced, produced to perfection, Alligator was a tough record to follow but they managed well with Boxer. I don't know how they will follow this one up. The pressure is on ;-) Expand
  28. Jan 26, 2012
    10
    This album is flawless. Every track plays like a dark hymn for a frightened generation of lovesick vagabonds. The National are one of the best groups around, and this is their best album in my opinion.
  29. Apr 23, 2012
    10
    This is by far my favorite album of all time fir a numbah of reasons and the main one being it got me into nonradio music. I saw this as the number two spot on a rhapsody best albums of the year list and was intrigued and tried it out. Needless to say it blew me away! I had no idea music like this existed! The first track Terrible Love really got me hooked. I remember thinking okay this is interesting, and I like the song, but let's see what else we got hear. I then got to Sorrow which is where I really got interested, especialy with the lyrics. I then got to Anyone's Ghost which didn't really wow me like the previous two did but I still enjoyed it. I then I got to Little Faith which I thought had one of the coolest intros and I got this sort of flying feel to it and his opening verse pulled me back down. The lyric "I set a fire just to see what it kills" still stands today as one of my favorite. I then got to Afraid of Everyone which I kind of consider the low point of the album. It's not bad but it's my least favorite song and it comes before the five favorite songs. We then get to Bloodbuzz Ohio which is my favorite track on the album and certainly in my top ten favorite songs ever. The lyrics, the guitar, the piano, the everything! I enjoyed this song so much and I believe that Lemonworld, Runaway, Conversation 16, England, and Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks is one of the best five song successions in an album I've heard especially Vanderlyle just because it's an amazing ending to an album that equivalents to the tired ending of a concert.

    Overall I think this album is Perfect and it's one of the best in my opinion. Be sure to check out: Bloodbuzz Ohio, Sorrow, Little Faith, Runaway, and Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks if anything
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  30. Apr 12, 2013
    6
    Not as good as 'Boxer': this one is more various, but the melodies are too predictable...
  31. Jun 25, 2013
    8
    A very good album. Not incredible, but very good. Picked it up on vinyl and I've listened to the digital versions and I would reccomend splurging for the vinyl. The vocals become much more haunting like that. This album has a lot of ups and very few downs, but fails to really tell a story.
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Dec 20, 2010
    90
    The National's latest is easily up there with the very best indie-rock records of the year.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.