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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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I have nothing to base this on but Concord seems like one of those boutique labels that is owned by a dude who used to run Universal Music or something and they wouldn’t understand what a Cherry Tree variant is or want to negotiate how it would happen.

Edited by Oblivions
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  • 1 month later...

It’s been quite awhile that a release has impressed me. Got my deluxe gray today. It was so heavy I thought they accidentally shipped me two copies before opening. This is one of the highest quality jackets, booklets and all around production I’ve seen in awhile. No wonder it was $50


the marble grey also is very well done and looks more like a pour than a mashed up mixed.  I haven’t listened yet, but if it sounds fantastic and I am assuming it will, this will go down as one of the years best physical releases 

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45 minutes ago, nelso330 said:

It’s been quite awhile that a release has impressed me. Got my deluxe gray today. It was so heavy I thought they accidentally shipped me two copies before opening. This is one of the highest quality jackets, booklets and all around production I’ve seen in awhile. No wonder it was $50


the marble grey also is very well done and looks more like a pour than a mashed up mixed.  I haven’t listened yet, but if it sounds fantastic and I am assuming it will, this will go down as one of the years best physical releases 

it’s beautiful packaged indeed, and the photobook is of very high quality. not to mention the signed jacket came in a ssecond jacket so i was able to put the thickish booklet in one and the records in the other. it was a bit of a challenge to fit 2 LPs and the booklet in one jacket and fit them all in the plastic casing so i’m glad there are two jackets.

Edited by wuhanclan
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Just got my test pressing bundle in today. I  will second the previous sentiment that the deluxe packaging is some of the best I’ve seen. Everything incredibly well done and detailed. Very well might be the best looking, reasonably priced deluxe variant I own. 
On a side note, having gone in on a test press bundle for $175, I didn’t want to shell out another $60 for a signed copy of the deluxe album. (I know the test pressing was signed, but I wanted the album artwork signed.) So, just after I ordered the test pressing bundle I emailed Second City Prints and asked if I could pay the difference in the signed vs. unsigned deluxe variants to get my deluxe signed in the bundle. 11 days later I got a response that they didn’t edit or change orders. Left me a little salty, but oh well. 
Test pressing 5/50 checking in. 

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