2019 marks twenty years of The National as a band.
To celebrate that fact (as well as their new album 'I Am Easy to Find', which is out on May 17th), we've compiled a list of ten of the Matt Berninger-led band's best tracks.
This playlist will either be the perfect beginner's guide to those unfamiliar with their back catalogue, or a reminder of just how good a band they really are to the already-initiated.
Taken from their third studio album 'Alligator' – which was really the one to break them internationally – it's a punky blast of rock that showcases the Dessner brothers' guitar-playing skills brilliantly.
2) 'Mr. November'
Also from 'Alligator', this track remains a live favourite for good reason; it's a powerhouse of a song that grabs you by the collar from the first note until the climactic last one.
3) 'Fake Empire'
Their fourth album 'Boxer' was the record that established The National as serious contenders for Best Indie Rock Band in the World – and songs like this didn't do any harm, either. As its solemn piano-led opening leads into a sort of skewed waltz over lyrics about disillusionment and apathy, it sounds unlike any other band out there.
4) 'Mistaken for Strangers'
Also the title of the (must-see) documentary about the band made by Matt Berninger's brother Tom, this is The National at their forthright, propulsive, gloomy best.
5) 'Bloodbuzz Ohio'
If anyone ever doubts that Scott Devendorf is one of the finest drummers in music right now, point them towards this song. Devendorf's work behind the kit informs so much of The National's music, but the way this track – our personal favourite – builds is superb. Berninger's deep croon has never sounded better, either.
6) 'Terrible Love'
Like 'Bloodbuzz Ohio', this song was taken from their fifth (and arguably their best) album, 'High Violet'. It's been used on many TV ads so is probably the most recognisable National song to non-fans, but placed within the context of the album, it's given new life.
Another track taken from 'High Violet', 'Lemonworld' shows a different, softer side to The National; they're not always about staccato drums and virtuosic guitar. The swoon-inducing melody of this song, coupled with Berninger's melancholy voice and lyrics, is downright beautiful.
8) 'I Should Live in Salt'
The opening track of album #6, 'Trouble Will Find Me', is often overlooked in favour of the album's bigger songs – but the sweeping majesty of 'I Should Live in Salt' makes it a dead-cert for this list.
9) 'I Need My Girl'
Also taken from 'Trouble Will Find Me', this stripped-back, beautifully understated track perfectly exhibits why The National are all-rounders when it comes to both sonics and emotion.
10) 'Pink Rabbits'
On the surface, this is a finger-clicking, loungey number – but dig a little deeper and this song is arguably one of Matt Berninger's best songs lyrically. Sometimes, you don't need to know exactly what a song is about; you can surmise a feeling and mood for yourself. The National have always been masters at giving their listener just enough to go on, and 'Pink Rabbits' brilliantly paints the outline while allowing the listener to colour in the rest.