If there's any one emotion that The National
is trying to get across with what they've released so far from their upcoming album, Sleep Well Beast
, it's a profound sense of defeat. "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness," the band's first single off of Sleep Well Beast
, tackled this in terms of where we are politically, but the band's newest single, "Guilty Party," seems to be painting with a broader stroke. It's a song about a very particular kind of hopelessness that could be applied to all kinds of situations: when something just isn't working out, and there's nobody to blame. After all, where are you supposed to go from there? Frontman Matt Berninger reflects on this theme directly from the very beginning of the song, singing "You're sleeping night and day/ How do you do it?/ Me, I'm wide awake/ Feeling defeated." The song's release is also accompanied by a trippy video, featuring dreamlike images awash in bright colors.
The song itself sounds like what you'd expect from the band after the acclaimed Trouble Will Find Me
, while also sounding like a direct continuation for the band, creatively speaking. "Guilty Party" has all the usual elements of a modern-day National track (the sombre piano, swelling strings, and Berninger's lower-register vocals are all here), but there's also a surprising amount of electronic instrumentation as well. While The National isn't going in any crazily different directions with "Guilty Party," they're still coming up with clever new ways to add to their typically melancholy tone. To put it simply, it's a tearjerker.