The National Releases New Album “First Two Pages of Frankenstein”
American rock band The National, consisting of Matt Berninger (vocals), Aaron Dessner (guitar), Bryan Devendorf (drums), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), released their ninth studio album “First Two Pages of Frankenstein” on April 28, 2023.
It is their first album in four years since the 2019 album “I Am Easy to Find”.
The album comprises 11-track, produced by The National at Aaron Dessner's Long Pond studio in Hudson Valley, New York.
The album features guest appearances from Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and the London Contemporary Orchestra.
Initially, the band stalled making the album. Matt Berninger said,
"A very dark spot where I couldn't come up with lyrics or melodies at all. Even though we'd always been anxious whenever we were working on a record, this was the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end."
But a turning point came with the lead single "Tropic Morning News", which was co-written with Matt Berninger's wife, Carin Besser.
- Aaron Dessner said, “When Matt came in with that song in the depths of his depression, it felt like a turning point for us. It's almost Dylan-esque in its lyrics and it's so much fun to play; everything suddenly felt like it was coming alive again.”
Bryce Dessner added, “We managed to come back together and approach everything from a different angle, and because of that we arrived at what feels like a new era for the band.”
Matt Berninger said, “The music that I eventually started connecting to, of all the stuff that we had, was the stuff that was a comfort for me.”
Matt Berninger told Apple Music, “It felt like a friend, like it was doing me some emotional good, like it was untangling the knot. I think getting out of my head and getting out of whatever loop I was in broke the spell. The approach that I ultimately had was to start exposing these weird, blurry, dark feelings to sunlight. This record is that—a record that I needed to make to fix myself.”
The band shared on social media, “This was not an easy album to make. It was the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end. But at some point there was a feeling of all of us leaning into each other in a new way. We managed to come back together and approach everything from a different angle, letting go of attachment and giving way to what we do best. For all of that, we are so proud of this album and how much it means to us.”
Matt Berninger explained about some tracks for the album via Apple Music.
“Once Upon a Poolside”
“It starts with this image of being about to go onstage, and the song you walk out to is almost over and you can't stall it anymore. You have to go to get started, you have to do this thing. The song, it feels very much like a prologue to a complicated mess. There's something about the line, which is a line that I stole from something my wife was writing: 'What was the worried thing you said to me?' Which is the one line that she's got in that song, but I keep coming back to that. I think it feels good because it's introducing by saying this record's going to unpack a lot of worried things.”
“It's a song about, 'What do you do with all the things that don't matter?' When there's a fracture and you think about, 'What about this? What about that? What about the tree we planted together? What about the water subscription we have?' All those little details are silly, in a way, but you can feel each one. I think every healthy marriage is always trying to figure out how to keep their marriage from falling apart—it's a constant challenge. I think I like to look into the ugly corners of what that would really mean, what would that feel like? It's very much me looking over the edge, like, 'What if this band did fall apart?'”
“New Order T-Shirt”
“You reflect, you have memories that stick with you. Sometimes some of them haunt you, sometimes some of them are a little good-luck crystal in your pocket that, in times of need, you'll go over or hold on to. But they're always really small. Some people have brains that remember, but nobody remembers a five-minute conversation, you just remember three seconds of a conversation, or just tiny fragments, or images, or moments. So I wanted to put together a quilt of those little significant memories. A lot of mostly really, really loving, fun, joyous little bits that you really try to hold on to. Every moment of your life could be a moment that sticks with you forever, so make it a good one.”
“Tropic Morning News”
“My wife and I don't write together in a room, and we almost don't even talk about songs really that much—it's more of a thing where I'm digging in, and I'm singing tons of melodies and trying to get words, and she just keeps a scrap of fragments of little bits and pieces of ideas or phrases. So I'll just raid her stash of stuff. She'll be out there pulling wildflowers and turnips from the woods, and then I'll be the one that goes in into the cauldron and puts in the newt's foot and frog's legs and all that shit in together into the witch's cauldron to try to make something that creates a spell. But oftentimes, it's her incredible little fragments that are the most magical ingredients in it all. 'Tropic Morning News' was a phrase she just had for a comical description of the daily darkness of the news, and the doomscroll.”
“I was imagining a scene—a contained moment and narrative between two people. Someone meeting someone at a place they used to hang out, or maybe the other person wasn't expecting them, but knew they'd be there. It's just two people that maybe have a chance to reconnect and maybe they don't. I wrote and I sent it to Aaron, and when he sent Taylor a few things, she heard that one and was able to instantly get into the mindset of the person I was talking about. So she wrote all her stuff as a response to me, and very much from the perspective of my wife, who I was writing about. So when Carin heard that one, and heard Taylor Swift embodying her character in a song, writing responses to me, that was really fun for everybody. It was a really cool moment. It was like walking down a path and thinking you're alone, and all of a sudden somebody appears out of nowhere and joins you on this path.”
“Your Mind Is Not Your Friend”
“Phoebe—the way she sings is like no other. You can hear her right away. There's something incredibly soothing and comforting about her presence, and the way she sings. This song's title was something that my wife was echoing to me a lot, she was saying that to me over and over again over the course of this year, and I just kept holding on to that thought. It was really helpful, because, somehow, I was able to not blame myself. It wasn't my fault I was in this position, it was my mind's fault. This wasn't me, it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Phoebe singing that was, in many ways, in this background echoey way, it was the voice of my wife in my head a little bit. I think that's why it felt like a good one to send her.”
Photo by Josh Goleman
- source : Apple Music