The National’s New Song, “Guilty Party,” Is Hypnotic

The second single from the forthcoming ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is great, but Matt Berninger still might need some candy or a taco or something to cheer him up.

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Jun 29 2017, 3:26pm

Six weeks after announcing their return with "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness," their paranoid rumination on a world in shambles, The National have released the second single from their forthcoming seventh studio album, Sleep Well Beast. "Guilty Party," released this morning, is a hypnotic five minutes, held down by Matt Berninger's croaking and mournful vocals and an uncomplicated piano line. "Another year gets away / Another summer of love / I don't know why I care / We miss it every summer," Berninger sings. (He seems like he's doing fine!) It would make for a beautifully melancholy demo with that alone, but it's pushed further by Bryan Devendorf's restless drums, some music box guitar lines, expanding feedback, and soft horns.

The Casey Reas-directed video for the song expands the palette from the cold blue of "The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness," adding some red and getting all sorts of trippy in the process. "The video is a dream about memory and the degradation of memory," Reas says in a statement. "It's about distance in time and space. Time moves forward, but then backward as memory. The image of the two-faced Roman god Janus, who can look into the past and future, is the core visual language."

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