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timsimmons

Serpentine Prison (Matt Berninger of the National) 10/2

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Scratch that. Thank you, Matt Berninger, for charging $60 for your album. I would have bought this blind immediately if it was $40 and you just talked me into thinking about it for long enough to hold off.

All jokes aside, is anyone really into the songs he’s released? I dig El Vy. I like his voice. The National is prob my fave modern band. But I feel like this set of songs (what I’ve heard so far) are oddly plain? And not in a charming, refreshing way? 

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1 minute ago, Oblivions said:

Scratch that. Thank you, Matt Berninger, for charging $60 for your album. I would have bought this blind immediately if it was $40 and you just talked me into thinking about it for long enough to hold off.

All jokes aside, is anyone really into the songs he’s released? I dig El Vy. I like his voice. The National is prob my fave modern band. But I feel like this set of songs (what I’ve heard so far) are oddly plain? And not in a charming, refreshing way? 

Bingo.  Texted a few friends something very similar in an attempt to avoid raining on any parades in this thread.  Didn’t want to be that guy, but now it sounds there’s grounds for a discussion.

 

I listened to 2 of the 3 singles.  They’re okay.  They’re not bad by any means but they’re also not up to the quality you’d expect to hear on a National record.  Try as you might, telling yourself “hey, this isn’t a National album, it doesn’t have to sound entirely like The National” is fine on paper.  I’d agree with you.  But when Matt’s unmistakable voice swoops in, the line becomes a little blurry.  At some point it feels like I’m listening to National b-sides that weren’t quite fleshed out enough to be b-sides.  Not meant to shit on Matt and everyone involved in making the record, just an honest opinion.  The fact is, if you’re looking at that deluxe, you’re paying $30 extra for a 2nd LP of tracks that’s weren’t solid enough to make the cut of a record that’s not solid enough to make the cut of a National album.  Maybe that’s a hot take.  $35-40 would’ve swayed me to roll the dice, but I’ll probably lock in a copy of that indie blue with Bull Moose and decide if it’s worth keeping before it ships out.  I really enjoy his EL VY album, but I feel like those tracks impressed me a lot more – even on first listen – than these are.  But of course it’s Matt Berninger.  His voice is iconic and I can’t see him slapping his name and face on an album that’s trash or has no merit.  I think it’ll be a nice morsel to tide us over until a new National album... but if their next LP is the full meal, I’m not going balls deep on deluxe breadsticks.  Even if they’re signed.

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I should clarify that I don’t think they’re bad. I think they’re more...odd? In how plain and simple they are? I’ll still stream it and I’m sure it’s a better listen in context of a whole album but I welcome the discussion on the music itself as, from fellow National fans. If you had told me a year ago that MB would have a solo album, I would not quite have expected...this...and I’m curious if my feelings are shared and this is a weird, understated album from a musician with an iconic voice and a history of performing over intricate, interesting arrangements. Maybe I’m off? I feel like there hasn’t really been much talk of the music itself on the National sub-Reddit either. I’m rambling now cause I do feel bad about being negative cause MB and the National are my boys.

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The singles may open up and blossom as National songs so often do – for me anyway – especially after repeated plays or in context of the full album.  But neither of the new singles have the alluring swagger that took me aback the first time I heard EL VY, nor the “ooh” factor of You Had Your Soul With You when it dropped as a taste for IAETF, and all the buzz that came with it.  On first listen they’re pretty tame and strike me as a little unforgettable.

 

Over the years I’ve come to accept that I don’t need to consume everything within the stratosphere of an artist just to keep my fanboy card.  This could be a release that I ultimately feel lukewarm about at best, and I’m prepared for that.  I don’t think it changes the way I enjoy The National or what I think of Matt’s role within The National.  The deluxe variant looks clean.  I’m sure the booklet / photos would be fun to leaf through.  And ultimately I still call myself a big fan of the full band – one who celebrates (nearly) their entire catalog and is very interested in their future endeavors.  But that being said, my hype for this project isn’t through the roof, and I think that’s okay.  I’ve come to terms with it and you can too.

 

Or just give Matt $75 for the LP and a slipmat because you’re a true fan of Tye National and the world needs to know it.

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