Brooklyn’s The National perform orchestrated nightclub folk-pop that could comfortably sit besides Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood and the Tindersticks on the shelf of modern day existentialists. Singer Matt Berninger’s lyrics convey a sense of a looming mid-life crisis exacerbated by the successful yet soulless corporate climbing going on around him. “I’m a professional in my beloved white shirt,” he sings with a trace of bitterness. But while the world around them smacks of greater indifference, the National plunge headfirst into maintaining the signature vibe that made their previous album, Alligator, such an alluring call to arms. Trumpet and piano accentuate the group’s ambient chug. Drummer Bryan Devendorf, in particular, takes charge, stubbornly churning against the band’s smoother textures. Yet, despite the anxiety and tension, Berninger soldiers on with his elusive baritone skipping through the lyrics, sprinkling his learned, romantic syntax on these social critiques. “Mistaken for Strangers,” “Squalor Victoria,” “Racing Like A Pro,” the highlights sneak in and out, flowing past at first unnoticed, but over time adding a cumulative weight that upon closer inspection reveal quite a commentary on the disparate economic classes living side by side.

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