Home > News & Reviews > The National

The National - Laugh Track (Album Review)

Tuesday, 26 September 2023 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Graham MacIndoe

Surprise releases are becoming more and more common, but it’s more unusual for a band such as The National to spring one like this. ‘Laugh Track’ follows quickly on the heels of ‘First Two Pages of Frankenstein’, which arrived earlier this year. The new album arose from the same sessions as its predecessor but, while that LP paled in comparison to many of its peers, this chapter is quietly superb.

Rather than following their routines, the tracks on ‘Laugh Track’ were given time and space to grow, often being chiselled out during tour rehearsals. It’s a far less methodical approach, and it shows. Closer Smoke Detector emerged from a jam session and is by far the most joyously chaotic cut here — it’s also the furthest they’ve stretched themselves away from normality in recent times.

Vocalist Matt Berninger’s random lyrics were added as the band spiralled off in different directions and, rather than trim them down as he normally would, he was encouraged to run wild.

In doing so, he provides a stark insight into the recording process this time around. When he loses control alongside criss-crossing guitars it offers a welcome jolt of energy.

Of course, as with any National record, there are moments of deja-vu as songs struggle to form their own identity and break free from the past. Interestingly, it’s the decision to place Bryan Devendorf’s brilliant percussion at the heart of the record that enlivens tracks such as Hornets, Tour Manager, and Coat on a Hook.

Equally, Devendorf’s work is also vital to the record’s many peaks, including the perfectly-judged Bon Iver collaboration Weird Goodbyes and Deep End (Paul’s in Pieces), which is one of several early highlights thanks to its upbeat tempo. Another cracker at the top of the piece, Turn Off the House, offers a strikingly different approach to beat assembly and its short-lived chorus is sublime.

‘Laugh Track’ is a gift made all the more special by its sudden release. Considerably better than its companion piece, it’s put The National back into everyone’s good graces just when the thought they might be fizzling out loomed large.

The National Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 26 2023 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Wed September 27 2023 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Compare & Buy The National Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


We don't run any advertising! Our editorial content is solely funded by lovely people like yourself using Stereoboard's listings when buying tickets for live events. To keep supporting us, next time you're looking for concert, festival, sport or theatre tickets, please search for "Stereoboard". It costs you nothing, you may find a better price than the usual outlets, and save yourself from waiting in an endless queue on Friday mornings as we list ALL available sellers!

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Related News

Mon 26 Feb 2024
The National And The War On Drugs Announce Co-Headline Zen Diagram North American Tour
Fri 17 Nov 2023
The National Tickets For Summer Outdoor UK Shows On Sale 10am today
Wed 15 Nov 2023
The National Share Video For Laugh Track Featuring Phoebe Bridgers
Fri 10 Nov 2023
The National Announce Outdoor UK Shows As Part Of Summer European Tour
Mon 18 Sep 2023
The National Surprise Release New Album 'Laugh Track'
< Prev   Next >