The National – Sleep Well Beast

The National take a more electronic approach with their seventh album, Sleep Well Beast

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 04 Sep 2017
Album title: Sleep Well Beast
Artist: The National
Label: 4AD
Release date: 8 Sep

It seems an inevitability these days; all indie-rock acts will at some point go electronic. This has had varying degrees of success (see: Arcade Fire), but for The National, now on their seventh record with Sleep Well Beast, it does seem necessary that they try something different. Much as The National remain a remarkably consistent and inspiring act, their last record, Trouble Will Find Me, did begin to stretch their winning formula a touch.

It’s important to note right away that despite rumblings, this is still The National. While there is extra reliance on electronic samples and keyboards, this is fundamentally still the same band. Lead single The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, typically soaring chorus and all, must have put those fears to bed, but equally more electronic examples, such as Guilty Party, showed the band could use this style to their advantage smartly.

Elsewhere, Day I Die is a return to Alligator form, Born to Beg is one of the band’s most touching songs in a back catalogue full of them, and Turtleneck shows their angrier excesses. As the album progresses, however, they do become a little too reliant on basically the same electronic beat to underpin the majority of their “new sound”. Nothing here is bad as such, but the album does get a little bit repetitive towards its climax. Overall The National have survived their electronic ring of fire relatively unscathed. 

Listen to: The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, Guilty Party, Day I Die