This week on Tracking – a regular series in which we discuss our current favorite songs – you can listen to additions from The National, Disclosure, CHVRCHES, David Lynch, Lykke Li and Fuck Buttons.
(Use the blue arrows to navigate through the feature.)
The National – “Graceless”
At this point, The National are very aware of their strengths. Their albums are now relentlessly consistent and where High Violet had one obvious peak of adrenaline (“Bloodbuzz Ohio”) Trouble Will Find Me has as many as five. “Graceless” is maybe the most satisfying peak, as each of the band’s elements is firing on all cylinders.
Bryan Devendorf rips through a swirl of a rhythm that stays pointedly grounded but lends itself to rapid variations; Scott Devendorf’s bass line anchors the melody in a more noticeable and satisfying way than on much of the album; the Dessner brothers craft guitar and piano lines that, while simple, are perfectly suited to the contours of the song; and Berninger spouts a collection of wry lyrics that sound like both complete bullshit and earnest introspection.
It’s a song that is easy to get swept up in. The indie rock bands that are now able to fill an arena (which The National did recently on their home turf in Brooklyn) excel at making a song feel momentous in an authentic rather than melodramatic way. Their songs can often flirt with the latter, but a tune like “Graceless,” with its epic moments derived from simple elements, is atmospheric in all the right places. You might listen to the song a hundred times, but it would still be tough to not crack a smile when Berninger sings “God loves everybody, don’t remind me.” — Drew Malmuth