By Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic | The indie-rock band The National has long served as a mascot for a certain type of guy: literary, self-effacing, mordantly cool. With cryptic lyrics and brooding instrumentation, the quintet of scruffy brothers and schoolmates from Ohio conveys the yearnings of the sensitive male psyche. The band’s lead singer, Matt Berninger, has a voice so doleful and deep that it seems to emanate from a cavern. His typical narrator is a wallflower pining for validation from the life of the party—the romantic swooning of a man in need of rescue.

In the mid-to-late aughts, as The National was gathering acclaim with darkly experimental albums, another artist was rising to prominence: Taylor Swift. On the surface, these two acts are starkly different. Where The National’s songwriting is impressionistic, Swift’s is diaristic—built on personal stories that typically forgo abstraction or even difficult metaphor. Where The National’s charisma lies in its mysteriousness, Swift earnestly says just what she means. The National is known for somber dude-rock; Swift found fame with anthems of heartbroken but upbeat young-womanhood. (In her 2012 hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” she even jabbed at pretentious guys who are obsessed with dude-rock, like the ex who ran off to listen to “some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.”) The National became the house band for a certain segment of Millennial yuppies; Swift became one of the biggest stars in the world.

So some listeners have been surprised to see the two emerge, in recent years, as close collaborators. After the pandemic interrupted Swift’s promotional plans for her 2019 album, Lover, she reached out to the multi-instrumentalist Aaron Dessner to help produce two new albums, Folklore and Evermore, the latter of which featured all five members of The National—whom she called her “favorite band”—in some capacity. The albums easily could have amounted to a credibility-chasing costume change: pop star goes coffee shop. . .
> > > > > > > >
Go here for the full story:

Photo: Taylor Swift

Leave a Reply

Close Search Window