What does it sound like?:
Hang on, let me set the scene…
Like many here, I am sort of keen on the National, if with a creeping sense of their gradually creeping up their own orifices, the self importance replacing the simplistic grandeur of their earlier albums. (File under Radiohead, sort of.) So I was keen to see that Berninger, their lugubrious wine-swigging front man, the patron saint of morose middle aged males, had put out a solo release, the band apparently on hold for a while. And it’s a cracker. If your bag is immolation in a muddy puddle of self pity, songs of disappointment and self-doubt. If you love Tindersticks, hell, you’re going to love this.
Produced by Booker T Jones, the sound is sumptuous, all muted brass, swathes of organ, with instrumental cameos, seamlessly blended, from Mickey Rapahael, Andrew Bird and Gail Ann Dorsey, amongst others.
Starting with the somewhat throwaway ‘My Eyes are T-Shirts’, this levers you in without any great threat, with 2nd track, “Distant Axis”, beginning to give a clue of where this journey is going. Track 3, the ‘single’, “One More Second” effortlessly sums up the direction, the vainglory of expectation. And so it continues, Dorsey adding a duet vocal to “Silver Springs”, which somehow lightens the mood a little. From then it is all downhill, in a good way. In a great way. Further highlights (lowlights?) include “Take Me Out of Town” and “Collar of Your Shirt”. And if that isn’t cheerful enough, “All For Nothing”swings by with a refrain of just those words, followed by the clincher, “again”…. Closer, the title song, elegantly seals the the whole, an enjoyable wallow in weltschmerz.
What does it all *mean*?
I like a bit of miz, me, a lament or a dirge always giving me cheer over a pointless paradiddle of pop jollies.
Goes well with…
Lights off, wife or loved one in bed upstairs and the tail end of a chewy shiraz, 14% or more. But count your blessings beforehand.
Might suit people who like…