The National – Little Faith. A brooding cloud of a song
I know little about The National, other than that they are a successful US indie band. I picked up High Violet from a flea market stall, because I’d read people rating it online and I was curious.
I like the title – nicely ambiguous – oh ye of little faith, small & shrunken religious belief.
Listening to it the singer’s voice is sombre, downbeat, discouraging expectations. The music behind the singing a coherent and well-produced (or muddy and heavy) whole meaning on first listen it is hard to disentangle or identify clear individual instrument playing. Mood music to back and match the slightly indistinct and down at heel singing.
The moodiness and overcast clouds of the song, emphasized by what sounds like a mix of strings, flute, harp and organ briefly burst and clear towards the end, releasing emotion, going from foggy drizzle to cleansing rain with just the guitar and violin playing. But then back into the fog as it resolves with drums that roll in triumph after much hesitancy earlier in the song, finally ending in what could be crashing cymbals or effects-heavy guitar, echoing the sound at the start.
I must admit, I don’t get it. It sounds ponderous, gloomy, not in an angst-ridden dramatic goth way. Just beaten down by life – a fatalistic wallow in the disappointments of circumstance.
Mind you, the music, after several listens, has begun to resolve into distinguishable elements. Maybe after more listens it would sink in further, a liquid solution carrying the words in a palatable form. There’s certainly a complexity there that I’m not comprehending in my first impressions. I guess new styles of music, like new forms of language take time to recognize and familiarize.