The National wallow wonderfully on new single ‘Eucalyptus’
After previously unveiling singles “Tropic Morning News” and “New Order T-Shirt,” The National on Wednesday gave us “Eucalyptus,” making one thing pretty clear to me:
Unless the band took a huge crap on the album’s other eight songs, First Two Pages of Frankenstein is going to be awfully good.
Lyrically, the latest single shares some DNA with its preceding album-mates — the wistful and reflective tone of “New Order T-Shirt,” and the painstaking (painful might be more accurate) relationship analysis of “Tropic Morning News.” According to frontman Matt Berninger, we should expect more of that subject-matter crossover on the new LP:
“Throughout the record, there’s a lot of looking into the abyss and wondering if a relationship has run its course,” he said. “‘Eucalyptus’ is about a couple splitting up their possessions after a breakup — like, ‘What are we going to do with the spring water we get delivered, what’s going to happen to all these plants?’ It’s about all those little things you end up having to think about when you’ve become so connected to someone.”
The National have made a career of taking awful stuff like that and making it sound good. For this one, they opted for a slow-build approach that starts with Berninger’s vocals over relatively muted everything else and gradually cranks up the intensity. A rapid-fire snare here. A cutting guitar lick there. Then it all sort of comes together in the last 90 seconds, tossing in some horns for good measure.
It’s a fun-to-listen-to, bummer of a song. It’s also how Berninger and his wife, writer Carin Besser, keep their marriage going strong. Hey, some couples garden. Some lyrically cosplay breaking up. Whatever works.
First Two Pages of Frankenstein hits streaming and stores and everywhere else April 28.