Any album that deals its catchiest songs before track three begins is an album that’s bound to disappoint; it’s not so much that these songs are bad — they’re quite good, actually — it’s just that they threaten to put the listener to sleep after a while.
Top Two Tracks:
“Somewhere Only We Know” & “This is the Last Time”
Debuting higher on the charts than any previous album from the National, High Violet deserves the attention: these are some of the most pensive, most beautifully orchestrated tracks they’ve released (particularly on the second half of the album), even if they do threaten to lull you into a forlorn stupor by the end.
The only “revolution” that happened between 2001’s excellent Reptile and Back Home was Eric Clapton’s conversion to the school of light contemporary snooze rock, filling up his new album with instrumentally pedestrian and lyrically boring recordings; Clapton’s guitarwork is, as always, interesting, but that can’t save most songs from dragging on a minute too long (“Love Don’t Love Nobody” has no business being over seven minutes!) or the background singers from drawing a smirk.
Top Two Tracks:
“So Tired” & “Back Home”
“Love Comes to Everyone” (yes, the George Harrison song, recorded as a tribute following his death and recognized here for sounding so much like the original)
A bit raw and predictable around the edges, but an upbeat debut album with clear rock sensibilities and strong potential for the future (The Colour & the Shape, anyone?) from almost-Heartbreaker Dave Grohl…