Indie rock stalwarts The National take to Depot Mayfield this August, joined by their 4AD label mates, Dry Cleaning.
Ohio-raised, Brooklyn-based The National broke out amid the garage rock revival of the early 2000s, distinguishing themselves from the likes of The Strokes and The Walkmen with a wider pool of influences – everything from country to post punk – as well as their more tender, reflective approach to songwriting. It wasn’t until they signed to Beggars Banquet in 2005 that things really took off for them, and they released a series of critically acclaimed albums – Alligator (2005), Boxer (2007), High Violet (2010) and Trouble Will Find Me (2013). Each examined the forensics of heartbreak, with Matt Berninger’s beautiful earthquake of a voice recalling the holy trinity of Cave, Cash and Cohen.
2017 saw The National scoop a GRAMMY for the expansive Sleep Well Beast, followed by 2019’s chart-topping I Am Easy To Find, released on 4AD. The latter is one of their most daring albums, featuring a cast of female vocalists who guide and redirect the songs. As the album’s opening track, ‘You Had Your Soul With You,’ unfurls, it’s so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger’s familiar baritone, mounting tension. But a few minutes later the true nature of I Am Easy To Find announces itself: the racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of long-time David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out to take over the song. Elsewhere it’s Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten, Mina Tindle, Kate Stables AKA This Is the Kit.
It was way back before the pandemic that The National set foot on these shores; this tour will feel a long time coming for a lot of fans. And there’s a big old bonus for those at the Depot Mayfield gig. The hype machine has been whirring away behind South London Dry Cleaning ever since their 2021 debut album, New Long Leg – taut, spoken word-led post punk done right. They’re now gearing up for the release of their second album, Stumpwork, coming in October. It’s billed as a more lyrically sensitive album, which combines alt-rock anthems with jangle pop and ambient noise.
With The National also working on a new album, we’re looking forward to a glimpse at the futures of both bands, while soaking up the older gems.