By Breanna Nesbeth, WERS Music Coordinator
The National have announced their ninth studio album First Two Pages of Frankenstein and with the announcement, the band has shared the album’s lead single, “Tropic Morning News.” The song is written by lead singer Matt Berninger with the help of his wife, Carin Besser. Besser is actually credited in coining the term “tropic morning news,” using it to refer to “doom scrolling,” or the act of overloading oneself with the overwhelming news of the world, with the overexposure contributing to poor mental health.
First Two Pages of Frankenstein will be the latest album from The National following their 2019 release, I Am Easy to Find.
WHERE THEY’VE BEEN
Since their previous release, The National has kept busy. The band released “Weird Goodbyes,” collaborating with Bon Iver and the London Contemporary Orchestra, and they even appeared on Taylor Swift’s 2020 album, Folklore, with band members Bryan Devendorf, Aaron Dessner, and Bryce Dessner being credited as contributors. Lead singer, Berninger, even sang on Swift’s follow up album Evermore, for the song “Coney Island.” The band also spent time on the road last year, where in addition to testing new material, they were able to experiment with song structure, incorporating live material into some of the upcoming tracks. “Tropic Morning News,” itself, was partially recorded live in Hamburg.
A NEW CHAPTER FOR THE BAND
“Tropic Morning News” features all the beloved aspects of the band’s style-- melancholy guitar riffs behind Berninger’s vocals that are both warm and distraught, hinting at hope. Painstaking honesty over a lighthearted melody are common features of the band, but with this new single, they are refreshed. The band’s guitarist/pianist, Bryce Dessner, shared that many difficulties arose working on the record, and they feared they saw the end. However, after utilizing a new approach and different angles, it felt as if they’d arrived at a new era.
Frontman Berninger shared in a press release that “The idea of referring to the darkness of the news in such a light way unlocked something in me, it became a song about having a hard time expressing yourself, and trying to connect with someone when the noise of the world is drowning out any potential for conversation.”
A DEEPER LOOK
One of the most notable things about the song is that, despite its upbeat melody, the song’s lyrics are a bit darker than let on. Perhaps this is what we’ll see more of in the new era Berninger described. In the song’s bridge, Berninger discusses conversational shortcomings and miscommunications, singing, “You found the slush in my sentiment / You made it sound so intelligent /… I would like to move on and be through with it.” And in the song’s chorus, Berninger opens up further about this doom, admitting, “I was suffering more than I let on.”
It seems like this new style of exploration will be a lot of what we’ll see on The National’s ninth studio album First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which arrives on April 28 and is set to have guest contributions from Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens, and Phoebe Bridgers. The National will be performing at the Boston Calling Festival on May 26th.