Review: Don't sleep on 'Sleep Well Beast'

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at 3:35 PM
Review: Don't sleep on 'Sleep Well Beast' by Natalie Wiepert

After a four-year wait, The National has finally put out another album. While earlier releases like “Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers” and “High Violet” hooked me right away, “Sleep Well Beast” is one that has merely grown on me over time. 

After landing a number three spot on the Billboard 200 with their last release, “Trouble Will Find Me,” expectations were high for their seventh album. Living up to rumors, it's arguably their most well-rounded album since "Boxer."

The album is most likely going to outdo their last two releases in the charts, but in my opinion, it’s a more consistent work, but not necessarily better sounding.

“High Violet” is made up of heavy instrumentation, while we have a more synth beat heavy production with “Sleep Well Beast.”

Hopefully you’ve just had your heart broken so you can listen to it as it was intended.

“Nobody Else Will Be Here” is a fairly boring opener, but don’t let that put you off for the rest to come.

“Walk It Back” is synth heavy and a prime example of the beat experimentation mentioned earlier.

“The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,” released earlier this summer, is a defining track. It shows off what standout songs The National can pull off with a catchy guitar riff.

“Turtleneck” made the album worth listening to for me. Matt Berninger lets go to the point of almost screaming, and it’s glorious. In contrast to the rest of the album, it’s loud and fast paced.

If you’re a fan of “High Violet" (which is my personal favorite), you’ll be satisfied with ballad-like “Empire Line.”           

The latter half of the album falls flat in comparison to the above-mentioned tracks. It gets to be same old, same old, although, “I’ll Still Destroy You” and “Carin At The Liquor Store” are worth a listen.

“I’ll Still Destroy You” is dreamy and disoriented, so it’s definitely a good song to drive to.

We can only assume “Carin At The Liquor Store” is in reference to Berninger’s wife (whose name is Carin…sleuthing skills at work) and the pitfalls of marriage. While to the extent of my knowledge they are still happily married, it goes to show you how a marriage could fall apart if you ignore your problems instead of working through them.

In terms of ranking this release against their previous work, I’d say if you’re a fan of “Boxer,” it’s perfect for you. But, you probably won’t think it’s as good.

Standout tracks: “Walk It Back” “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” and “Turtleneck"

Stream the album below: 

Natalie Wiepert is a managing editor (digital) for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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