The National fans wondering why the group was playing so many new songs on tour this year now have the answer. The Cincinnati-reared quintet announced tonight (Sept. 15) during its set in front of a hometown crowd at its Homecoming festival that a surprise new album, Laugh Track, will arrive on Monday. A small quantity of early autographed vinyl copies were also available at the merchandise stand for lucky attendees.
Laugh Track features songs written alongside those which appeared on First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which was released in late April. Nine of them have already debuted live, including “Weird Goodbyes,” the recorded version features Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and was released last November as a one-off single. Fellow recent singles “Space Invaders” and “Alphabet City” also appear on Laugh Track, as does “Dreaming,” which was played for the first time tonight.
The National’s performance began with a complete run-through of the 2010 album High Violet, its commercial breakthrough and highest charting release to that point in its career (No. 3 on the Billboard 200). All 11 songs from it have been played at least twice on the road in 2023, but a handful of them, such as “Little Faith” and “Anyone’s Ghost,” had been absent from the live repertoire for years prior to this tour.
On the heels of having opened for the National last month at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Patti Smith joined the band for “I Need My Girl,” which has previously featured live guest turns by Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry and Maggie Rogers. The song “Available” was aired for the first since 2014, and was dedicated to the newly reunited the Walkmen, who performed earlier in the day.
Homecoming continues tomorrow with the National performing 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me in its entirety, alongside sets by Pavement, Weyes Blood, and Snail Mail, among others.
Here is the track list for The National’s Laugh Track:
“Deep End (Paul’s in Pieces)”
“Turn Off the House”
“Coat on a Hook”