With a cast of female vocalists guiding and redirecting the songs, the National’s eighth album is their largest, longest, and most daring.
Matt Berninger (the National) and Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos) are two of rock’s heaviest-hitting lyricists. Turns out, they’re also huge fans of each other’s songs.
The guys recently sat down to discuss all things songwriting (lyrics, finding melody, influences, “dick references,” embarrassment and so much more) for the Talkhouse Music Podcast. They break down songs from across their catalogues, such as the National’s “All the Wine,” “Fake Empire” and “Lemonworld,” and Conor’s “Lua,” “You Are Your Mother’s Child” and “Artifact #1.” They also discuss their favorite songwriters, giving a lot of love to Leonard Cohen.
The Dessners were immersed in electronic experimentation last year when, randomly, they liaised with German techno-types Mouse On Mars in Berlin and, as a result, Sleep Well Beast opens with what might pass as Kompakt-brand micro-house in ‘Nobody Else Will Be There’ – the baritone Berninger singing restrainedly over piano and strings accompanied by glitches ‘n’ twitches.
In 2017, the National revisited their 2007 classic Boxer at a show in Brussels, and the set has been packaged for a Record Store Day release. You had to be there…