The National Give Us Nothing on “First Two Pages of Frankenstein”

The National Give Us Nothing on First Two Pages of Frankenstein

Tyler Hayley, Reporter and Editor

Pomegranate Seeds: 5/10

The National have released their ninth studio album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein. With several collaborations with artists such as Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift, this is a very exciting new release. Here are my thoughts on The National’s new album.

The first track immediately sets the tone of the album and shows you the type of music that The National creates. “Once Upon a Poolside” featuring Sufjan Stevens is a nice, slow song that is marked by good, well-written lyrics. This was my first time listening to The National, so this song was my first introduction to not only lead singer Matt Berninger’s monotone voice but the band’s lyrical craftsmanship and their often one-note instrumentation. There was never a change in emotion or energy throughout the song, which made it feel very long and boring.

Track two, “Eucalyptus,” had a little more energy than the first track, but, as I’ve quickly learned, no The National song has that much energy. The song had a good opening beat and the instrumentation was much more versatile than the last one. While it’s obviously a well-made song, the instrumentation, lyrics, and rhythm are all very good, the song still lacked any emotion and was very repetitive. “Eucalyptus” is one of the best tracks on the album, but would benefit from getting cut a little shorter. Track three, “New Order T-Shirt,” was one of the best and one of the most fun songs on the album. The vibe of the song was more cheerful than the others and had about as much energy as I would get from the album. The lyrics were fun and one of the best parts of the track. However, the song was way too long and started to feel very average by the end.

Track four is “This Isn’t Helping” featuring Phoebe Bridgers. The song had good instrumentation, lyrics, and Bridgers was a great duet partner for Berninger; but, the chorus blended right into the rest of the song. This is a problem that all of the songs on the album face because Berninger’s singing is so monotone and flat that you can’t even tell when the chorus starts. Track five, “Tropic Morning News,” was one of my favorites as the instruments truly stood out to me. It had a good opening, and the focus on the drums gave the song a good beat and good energy. The instrumentation and production were superb and it’s one of those moments where you just appreciate the quality of the song. The good beat, instrumentation, and production all make this one of the best songs on the album.

Track six is “Alien,” and it’s about here on the album when you realize how repetitive the album really is. While the song has good lyrics, Berninger sounds the same as he does on every song and brings no energy to any part of the track. While the instrumentation was the best part, it sounded similar to what I had already heard on the previous tracks. The song was also very long. Track seven is “The Alcott” featuring Taylor Swift, and is the best collaboration on the album. The instrumentation felt a little more dramatic, and the lyrics were very well-written and fun to listen to. Swift sounds very good and it was her parts that shined. Besides Swift’s sections, the song was very similar to the other songs, but it was saved by its collaborator.

Track eight, “Grease In Your Hair,” had a bit more energy than the last several tracks and, once again, brought out the drums. This song is where Berninger sings with the most energy, and it’s still not that much. The instrumentation was the best part of the song as it didn’t feel repetitive and is what gave the song its energy. But, because the song is so long, it starts feeling repetitive by the end of it. Track nine, “Ice Machines,” felt very repetitive as it sounded very similar to all the other songs with its singing, instrumentation, and overall sound. It was far too long for how one-note the song was, and I just wish there was a little more energy, either in the instruments or the singing.

Track 10 is “Your Mind Is Not Your Friend” featuring Phoebe Bridgers, which was another good collaboration. While I definitely enjoyed Bridger’s portion and the lyrics were very good, the song was overall very monotone and repetitive. The instruments never bring much energy, and I can’t count on Berninger to bring any energy with his singing. The album closed with “Send For Me” which was very similar to the last track as well as many other songs on the album. The entire song blends together and the only good things about the song are the production and lyrics. It’s a good end for The National, as it showcases how slow and one-note they are.

Ultimately, I was not a fan of this album. All of the songs were very slow, there was barely any energy, the singing wasn’t good, and the entire album felt repetitive. First Two Pages of Frankenstein receives 5/10 pomegranate seeds with all of its points being for how well-made the album is. I won’t be wasting my time on any more of The National or this album, and neither should you.