High Violet (Expanded Edition)

High Violet (Expanded Edition)

The Cincinnati-rooted quintet the National has often looked to the grandeur of Britpop and the edginess of post-punk to shape their sound, but those British stylings are tempered with a down-to-earth quality that betrays their Midwestern roots. Their fifth full-length, the critically acclaimed High Violet, was released in 2010, and a few months later this expanded version of the album came out. The additional material is worth checking out. It’s nice to be able to compare the studio take of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” with a live recording of the song that spotlights piano and horns. “London,” which might be the best thing here, and “Anyone’s Ghost” are also presented in live versions. Two previously unreleased tracks, “Wake Up Your Saints” and “You Were a Kindness,” are as good as the cuts that made their way onto the original release. Husky horns mark the intro to “Wake Up Your Saints,” a song that hints at both soul music and cabaret, and the very fine “You Were a Kindness” is the sort of slow, atmospheric piece that gets this band compared to Tindersticks.

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