Monday, 1/1/2018 Spool Going Round Radio will run down our favorite albums of the year on 91.9fm KPTZ and on www.kptz.org
It’s time to run down some of the best albums of 2017 according to Spool Going Round. The National released a beast this year. Here’s what we said when the album was released.
I like to start the morning off with a brisk walk. I head to the beach and then walk through town. As I came into the final stretch, round the local movie theatre, I noticed a poster for a movie playing titled Band Aid. Being the music lover I am, it intrigued me. So when I returned home from my walk, I looked it up. The premise is that a couple is uncoupling and as part of marriage therapy they go back to their first love, music. The couple starts writing songs together and out of that is a way to voice their problems and work together to solve them. They get the band back together and maybe the marriage too? What a great premise for a movie!
After putting the movie on my list of “to see” films, I started listening to the new album by The National called “Sleep Well Beast” coming out 9/8/17 via 4AD records. I couldn’t help but notice in many of the songs they seem to be dealing with relationship issues. After further investigation, I see that the principle songwriters on the album are Matt Berninger, the vocalist, and his wife, Carin Besser. Am I listening to the recorded musical version of the movie poster I just saw? Is this the old adage “which came first the album or the movie?” People ask that, right? I’m pretty sure it was asked when Steely Dan came out with the song “Cousin Dupree” and then Owen Wilson wrote a film called “You, Me, and Dupree.”
Much of the sound on Sleep Well Beast is familiar and reminds me of The Boxer which was the first National album that I loved. They have added some electronic touches and samples like in the track “Walk it back” but I would not call this some outrageous leap, it still sounds like The National. You are going to hear just as much piano as beep-bop-boops. Oh and “Turtleneck” is an outright rocker!
Back to the relationship problems, is it the band or marriage, or both? In the track “Day I Die” there are lines of “…I barely ever see you anymore..when I do it feels like you’re only halfway there…” After some more accusations are thrown back and forth we get to the song titled “Guilty Party” I assumed we would come to some conclusions but only to hear Matt sing “..It’s nobody’s fault..” Isn’t it true though? And we are all to blame. Pick up Sleep Well Beast and I am sure you will find something in there that you are guilty of doing and also something that will have you glaring recriminations at your partner. Is “Sleep Well Beast” what Matt and Carin say to each other before going to bed? No. That’s mean. Or, it could be cute? They’ll figure it out. We will enjoy the great writing from the pair.
It is a valuable listening experience and will definitely rest in the Top 5 of 2017.
One of the best tracks on Sleep Well Beast is “The System only dreams in Total Darkness.”