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The National

On their fourth release, Alligator, the National’s lead singer and head lyricist Matt Beringer sounds like he’s relating some kind of schizo bedtime story. Beringer’s baritone lulls you into a sense of calm, with a conversational delivery reminiscent of Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples or the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. The lyrics are simple and often haunting; Beringer writes songs about looking for astronauts and wearing argyle sweaters that are upon further inspection, quite plaintive and confessional: “Break my arms around the one I love / Be forgiven by the time my lover comes.”

The music backing Beringer’s lush storytelling is rooted in introspective British acts like Joy Division, though they inspire the same sort of eeriness of bands like the Fall. Each track has a rich, almost orchestral sound behind it that is superbly arranged and haunting in its tension-fraught simplicity.

This Brooklyn-based band originally hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. Beringer is backed by two pairs of brothers on Alligator: Aaron Dessner on guitar and bass, Bryce Dessner on guitar, Scott Devendorf on guitar and bass, and Bryan Devendorf on drums. According to the band’s official bio, “Matt sings because he’s taller, blonder, and older than the rest.” Alligator is the National’s debut for Beggar’s Banquet records. It was released on April 12th.