DJ Pick of the Week: The National, 'The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness'


The National
The National photographed at the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, Calif. (Shane McCauley)

The sweeping vocals of Arone Dyer (of Brooklyn duo Buke and Gase) lull you into a sense of calm until the drums start pulsing and, boom, at 17 seconds in, the most wicked guitar riff from Aaron Dessner busts through. This is the aggressive and fresh sound of The National.

If you see The National perform live, the band members display kinetic energy, bouncing off lead singer Matt Berninger's raw and emotional performance. The National have promised for years that their next album would be one that captures that animalistic quality, but the last two albums, 2013's Trouble Will Find Me and 2010's High Violet, were both elegant and orchestrated. The band's forthcoming release, Sleep Well Beast, is the album that live-show fans have been hungry for.

In an interview with Pitchfork, Berninger said that, "[this] one, for me, is a hibernation — the dark before the dawn sort of thing. … It's an abstract portrait of a weird time we're in." To me, it sounds less like a hibernation than a rude awakening. The anxiety and panic that starts with the guitar riff at 17 seconds in and refuses to loosen its grip on you.

The National's new album, Sleep Well Beast, is out Sept 8, 2017.


The National - official site

Arone Dyer - official site

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  • The National, 'Sleep Well Beast'
    The National's 'Sleep Well Beast' releases Sept. 8, 2017. The album was produced by Aaron Dessner with co-production by Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger. (4AD Records)

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