• Record Label: 4AD
  • Release Date: Sep 8, 2017
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
Buy On
  1. Sep 6, 2017
    100
    Those invested in the band’s slow-motion refinement of simmering melancholy will find that they’ve discovered yet more fresh nuance to that sound, as they seem to every time.
  2. 100
    It is an incredibly cohesive album though--it operates in its own defined space and has an intense frostiness to, which, for The National, is saying something.
  3. Sep 8, 2017
    94
    Sleep Well Beast sees The National flourish with candid lyrics and diverse song craft, embodying the band’s continuing evolution and life’s constant change.
  4. 91
    It’s a different kind of thing now, even if the fundamentals are unchanged. It finds the National snapping out of the comfortable groove they’ve settled in over the last decade, fuelled by strife, battle-tested wisdom, and a touch of righteousness.
  5. Sep 8, 2017
    90
    Every member of this band is wholly present and firing on all cylinders here.
  6. Aug 22, 2017
    90
    This is the band's best album since Boxer, and will stand as one of the year's best. [Jul - Sep 2017, p.58]
  7. Sep 8, 2017
    85
    It’s the best National album since Boxer; and for argument’s sake, Devendorf’s drumming hasn’t been this vital for ten years.
  8. 83
    Sleep Well Beast certainly takes the air out of the hopeful balloon that swelled on Trouble Will Find Me, but if there’s ever been a time to wallow in lush, masculine melancholy, it’s now. This beast isn’t going anywhere.
  9. Sep 21, 2017
    80
    Sleep Well Beast is an album that rewards repeat listens and unfurls its beauty slowly over time: The National have yet again made an album that’s as brilliant as it is ambitious.
  10. 80
    Sleep Well Beast is a heartfelt confession plucked straight from a middle-aged couple's diary on how good and bad things get, how we feel to leave at these tragic moments, how death touches us from that moment we learn to love, but most of all, it teaches us that love is worth fighting for and work has to be put in. No matter what.
  11. Sep 11, 2017
    80
    Nothing on Sleep Well Beast is headline-new. But you are either in singer Matt Berninger’s corner, clinging on as he drills down into his anxieties, or you are wondering why even validated white guys in first-world countries can still eat themselves up inside so insatiably.
  12. Sep 8, 2017
    80
    They don’t reinvent the band’s image so much as carefully muss its hair a bit, unfasten one more button on its shirt collar. They are still a good dinner-party band, but now they’ve made the album for when the wine starts spilling on the rug, the tablecloth is rumpled, the music has imperceptibly gotten louder, and all those friendly conversations have turned a little too heated.
  13. Sep 8, 2017
    80
    The libretto and effects boards on Sleep Well Beast may signal doom, but the replenished energy in the music feels life-affirming. Somehow, the most despondent album they’ve ever made still sounds like a celebration.
  14. Sep 8, 2017
    80
    Is it a worthy addition to their canon, though? Absolutely. The things that make this band a real treasure can all still be found here--the slightly beat-up romanticism, the pessimism of the secret optimist, the big, bold beauty of the melodies, the detailed imperfect perfection of the music.
  15. Sep 7, 2017
    80
    They sound as involved as they’ve ever been, the fruits of considering a more improvisational and segmented approach to writing music.
  16. Sep 7, 2017
    80
    There may not be any moments of dramatic catharsis to compete with “Sea of Love” or “Mr. November,” but the band’s gift for slow, sad beauties (“Nobody Else Will Be There,” “Carin at the Liquor Store”) remains undiminished. Even as they tinker with their style, The National can’t help but sound like themselves.
  17. Sep 7, 2017
    80
    Lyrically and sonically, the National's seventh LP plumbs anxieties more deeply than ever. The result is a disarmingly potent album, not just emotionally but politically as well.
  18. 80
    For most veteran bands, the beast is complacency. The National slays it here and stays on top of the rock world in the process.
  19. Sep 7, 2017
    80
    You find yourself simultaneously applauding its elegance and the evident thought and craftsmanship that went into making it, while quietly wishing it would get a move on. When it does, it’s fantastic.
  20. 80
    The National’s 2013 album, “Trouble Will Find Me,” was a culmination of sorts: accomplished, polished, measured, mature. Sleep Well Beast is just as polished and even more intricate. But it also shakes things up.
  21. They’ve [experimental sonics] been added to the steadfast elements that make The National so good: clever turns of phrase, genius storytelling, Bryan Devendorf’s marching-band drums, delightful arrangements and piano and brass that work well together.
  22. Sep 6, 2017
    80
    Aat large, the album is a quiet predator.
  23. Sep 6, 2017
    80
    Sleep Well Beast is as sad a record as The National have ever made, and yet it also feels like their most hopeful.
  24. Sep 5, 2017
    80
    Sleep Well Beast succeeds due to a simple songwriting decision that, in retrospect, illuminates why High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me fall into ruts.
  25. Sep 5, 2017
    80
    The album does get a little bit repetitive towards its climax. Overall The National have survived their electronic ring of fire relatively unscathed.
  26. Aug 31, 2017
    80
    These soft, slow songs are surrounded by cuts where the darkness opens up slightly but significantly. It's enough to make Sleep Well Beast feel like a dramatic departure in the close quarters of the National's discography.
  27. Q Magazine
    Aug 29, 2017
    80
    Sleep Well Beast is undoubtedly richly textured, but it still demands the listener lean in. [Oct 2017, p.109]
  28. Mojo
    Aug 22, 2017
    80
    This new material finds them in [a] more experimental mode. [Oct 2017, p.90]
  29. Uncut
    Aug 22, 2017
    80
    An aquatic, slow-moving work, rich with melancholic atmosphere. [Oct 2017, p.35]
  30. Aug 22, 2017
    80
    Overall Sleep Well Beast is a more subdued record that shows evidence of their solo side projects having shaped their new direction. Those who know that a new National album often requires multiple listens to fully grow and reveal its charms and nuances will have their patience rewarded, as this is a beautiful piece of work.
  31. Sep 8, 2017
    77
    Sleep Well Beast is anything but complacent and it doesn’t skew from the high-caliber rock and roll the band has been producing since day one.
  32. 75
    This isn’t The National’s finest album--for my money, that’s still High Violet, or if I’m feeling fruity, Alligator--but there’s much to cherish on Sleep Well Beast.
  33. Sep 6, 2017
    70
    Thankfully, the National have deftly managed that balancing act with Sleep Well Beast, a record that is equal parts familiar and fresh.
  34. Aug 31, 2017
    70
    There are only a few uptempo cuts here, but unlike on the band's last few releases, each of them propels the album forward.
  35. 60
    Sleep Well Beast, like all The National’s albums, occupies troubled territory. These are songs about the fleeting impermanence of joy, compared to the lingering bruise of despair, and how hard it is to live in this unfairly weighted emotional space. It’s a struggle embodied in Matt Berninger’s enervated, murmurous baritone.
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 158 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 158
  1. Sep 9, 2017
    10
    There's a moment in the life span of every great band in which they have to decide to get bored and play safe, be satisfied with theirThere's a moment in the life span of every great band in which they have to decide to get bored and play safe, be satisfied with their achievements and stop, or get uncomfortable and keep progressing. Sleep Well Beast is a strong statement revealing that The National is still up to excel itself and develop a body of work so wide like they never did it before. The album full of electronic sounds, two great guitar solos, amazing lyricism and skillful dynamics surprised me reminding me a bit of "Ok Computer" meant to me in 1997. Melancholy, feelings of longing, uncertainties of the known love and professional life, or the biased purposes of parties make evident here and much more. Definitely 10/10 if that's possible to quantify. Full Review »
  2. Sep 8, 2017
    9
    The National have been so consistently brilliant all the way through their nearly 20 year career. it's no surprise that Sleep Well BeastThe National have been so consistently brilliant all the way through their nearly 20 year career. it's no surprise that Sleep Well Beast immediately sounds like some of their best work. It is very much a National album but they also experiment with rich results! Radiohead vibes can be heard oozing all over this album. Nice electronic sounds come in to play along with the band's instruments. Beninger is on form. lyrics are great. There's everything to love about this. Full Review »
  3. Sep 8, 2017
    10
    This is a track-by-track album review, my final score is based on the average of the scores of all of the songs. Remember, this is just myThis is a track-by-track album review, my final score is based on the average of the scores of all of the songs. Remember, this is just my lame opinion, lol.
    Nobody Else Will Be There: A song that crackles and fizzles as the piano swoons subtly over the course of the song. Berninger sounds truly desperate as he attempts to reach new lows in his pitching. As the awkward synths enter the song, the song has already established its rhythm. (10/10)
    Day I Die: In contrast to the introductory song of the album, Day I Die starts off with a pulse of energy as the drums are allowed to bang out alongside the electrifying guitar chords. Berninger puts his heart into it despite it being broken making this song one of the best anthems of the whole entire album. (10/10)
    Walk it Back: A simple song with synths and a vocal delivery resembling a speaking manner rather than that of singing notes. The song slowly builds up but remains unpredictably stable throughout. (10/10)
    The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness: It's powerful **** I don't think I really have to talk about this one. (10/10)
    Born to Beg: Set to an extremely settled drum beat, this song is yet another sweet addition to the catalog of this album and lets the twinking sounds make statements without overstaying their welcome and ending the track in a way that I can only describe as "beautiful" because I know nothing about synonyms. (10/10)
    Turtleneck:It appears to be that this album is going back and forth between quiet tracks and loud tracks, however, this track is by far the loudest and most out of control, yet extremely well-blended and mixed without coming across as stupidly over-the-top or too clean as it is the shortest track. (10/10)
    Empire Line: In an environment of extremely intricate sounds, Berninger sings slowly to the quick and upbeat synths and small beats of the song, yet you can't help but wait and listen to what he has to say. This song breaks the pattern of the odd-numbered songs being quiet as it finds itself in between being loud and quiet which is a fitting way to start the second album. WHINY SYNTHS! (10/10)
    I'll Still Destroy: One of their most insanely electronic songs on the album, it strolls along at an extremely frenetic pace, almost reminds me of Radiohead's "Kid A." It quickly gets toned down as Berninger brings humanity into the song over time as the song beautifully improvises and even changes into a rock song with a "xylophone?" Also, the long, voiceless ending is worth listening to (10/10)
    Guilty Party: Electronic drums get partially offset a piano that sounds almost "church-ish" that strolls through the song and helps build momentum for the odd strings and vocals to come until the drums ultimately become more powerful and human, ever so slightly (so much subtle **** happens in this song, that it's going to require re-listening sessions.) (10/10)
    Carin at the Liquor Store: For a nice change of pace, the piano starts out alone with Berninger's stable voice and romantic lyrics. The song intensifies whilst retaining a sense of vulnerability. (10/10)
    **Could this be a perfect album?**
    Dark Side of the Gym: An extremely modern electronic song that reminds me of something by Lorde or Klangstof... more of the latter... the beat actually does reflect the "innocence" of a gym whilst the strings remind me of when Wii Sports is rewarding... I'm missing the point completely seeing as how this song is about the first time "Matt" met "Whatever the name of his wife is." It nicely crescendos into an emotionally packed ending covered in classical strings that become genuinely inhumane... didn't know it was possible, lol. (10/10)
    Sleep Well Beast: As the final track of the album, it peacefully puts the album to sleep (well, that's a really ****ty pun.) Of course the song intensifies ever so slightly, almost as if to reflect the idea that even beasts have nightmares... I connect titles and instrumentals with each other too much... but still... the **** ambiance of this song is too hard to resist.

    Final Score: 120/120 or 10/10
    **PERFECT ALBUM**
    In conclusion, Berninger comes off with some of his most sincere and subtly powerful vocals whilst the role of the guitars remain restrained until they are needed to make a song anthemic and give it the meaningful edge it needs. As for the synths, they maintain a presence throughout the record and provide a cutting backdrop. The pianos and strings are always beautiful and end most of the songs in grand fashion. This is probably one of the National's best albums... I wouldn't know because I've only listened to Boxer... But seriously, this record manages to be flawless yet reflect a theme of vulnerable love at the same time, that's pretty impressive... so go listen to this album, I think you will enjoy at least one of these songs considering the fact that I managed to enjoy every aspect of all of them, and if you hate it, that's okay, but if you write a review, it better make sense.
    Full Review »