According to Rayna Khaitan: “Many of us felt our hearts and stomachs turn upside-down last November when the U.S. Republican candidate (who doesn’t deserve name recognition in a five-star review) won. The victory of a bigot and sexist was, and is, a horror impossible to fathom. The shock has worn off, but the disbelief remains, only we’ve now been forced to accept this waking nightmare. In this grim, new reality, Sleep Well Beast is an introspective opus for the fighter in all of us—despite feeling loss and lost, we’re unwilling to let go of what we believe.
Sleep Well Beast has its own slinky magnetism, influenced by new cities (the band have dispersed geographically after spending many years together in New York City) and their various side projects since 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me. It’s breezy, yet textured; jazzy, yet constrained. In places, it even has a hazy nostalgic ‘50s quality, as if recalibrating toward the illusion of sanity we once bought into. While listening to Sleep Well Beast, I often find myself recalling the gauzy, experimental aura of The Sea and Cake and dramatic orchestral mastery of the Rachel’s. It navigates the liminal spaces—between wakefulness and sleep, escape and enclosure and even life and death—carefully and artfully.
In the dimness of our times, The National can’t divine miracles to save us from the impact of the hideous absurdity who’s tweeting from the White House. But they can afford us refuge and solidarity, and remind us to stay vigilant and awake. For one day soon, this nightmare will end and we’ll put the beast to bed.”
VIEW album index here