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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The National – High Violet – Album Review

It's a stunner - The National move ever closer towards 'doing an REM', taking their music and breaking into the mainstream

Written by Ian Steadman

Kaffe-med-kaka 6
Thuva-Lisa Ceder.

Thuva-Lisa Ceder is the creator and star of her own little world where the strange is praised and practiced. Since discovering her now defunct blog, pills view Le Petit Nuage, more about a year and half (ish) ago, I have been drawn to that world, peeking in with a morbid wide eyed curiosity, entranced by the peculiarities and oddities put on display. Ceder, a nineteen year old Swede, shares her art via Flickr and Tumblr – photographs, illustrations and collages- showcasing a style distinctly her own. A startling kaleidoscope of the strange and the darkly erotic, all seemingly from another time and a faraway world, which holds the ability to both perplex and charm a viewer-if they aren’t easily offended. Perhaps most surprising to the unsuspecting may be Ceder’s illustrations.

Kaffe-med-kaka

Drawn and coloured in felt pens or pencil, the illustrations appear to the less observant eye to be a child’s drawings (Glitter! Shiny star stickers! Flowers! Polka Dots!), artwork of which any parent of a small child would be proud. That is, until Mom and Dad realize that the people (notably, very well-endowed in the eyebrow department) rarely have any on pants…and they are often touching each other or themselves in those special places. Graphic enough a child psychologist would likely proclaim them as the troubling doodles of a “disturbed child” with the utmost bewilderment, prompting him to exclaim, “Kids today! Harrumph!” while running his hand over his graying unruly beard. Naturally, I was intrigued. It’s not the first time stylistically childlike art has featured adult subjects, but Ceder owns her style and keeps it fresh.

Kaffe-med-kaka

I caught up with the Miss Thuva-Lisa Ceder to see just what is going on inside that brain of hers.

When did you first start experimenting with art?
From the day I was born. I made many dolls and lots of clothes out of curtains. I loved making my own toys.

The themes in your artwork, both photography and drawings, suggest you gravitate toward the dark and morbid, the openly erotic, and the bizarre and experimental- what inspires this point of view?
The World: society, how it works, my life, old people and asexuality. I am also inspired by a desire to be loved and a disgust for certain parts of society.

This point of view is intriguingly filtered through childlike imagery in your drawings. Glitter, star stickers, and flowers combined with pubic hair, nipples and fishnet stockings seem like an unlikely pairing. Can you tell us more about the subjects of your illustrations?
I mostly draw females/males that are like me in one way or another. I want them to express some feeling, and I don’t always know what that is so sometimes my hand just decides what it’s going to be so I don’t think that much about it.

Kaffe-med-kaka

How did you start to develop your style?
A friend of mine inspired me with the eyebrows. Before I drew more stuff like cute cats (when I was younger) but now I prefer to draw elderly sweet male/females that are angry.

I really like the collaged pieces- the mixture of your drawings or pieces of photographs layered on top of other photographs is really neat. What type of images do you look for when you make your collages?
Images that I think would be great together – whatever that is- my mouth, an old lady, whatever, stuff that will express something.

My particular favorite is the very endearing image of the unicorn venturing up an older woman’s arm. How did you come up with this?
Oh, it was only by pure chance. I found the lady who I cut out from a newspaper and loved the picture, also I loved unicorns… and suddenly it became a collage.

Kaffe-med-kaka

About your photography: You are often the subject of your photography: self-portraits of everyday activities such as you smoking or holding your pet bunny to nude images of yourself huddled inside a suitcase or topless in your bathtub. Why does nudity play such an important role in your work?
We were born nude.

Self-portraits, photographs of friends and family, nature, creepy old houses, etc… What is your favorite to shoot?
Definitely old people, they have a whole life behind them and are knowledgeable about things. They will soon die. I just like that they are much more interesting than stupid young people or 40-year-old men who shout insults after you when they are drunk. They are so calm, waiting to die. Also, we all will get old someday and it feels like we don’t give a shit for the old ones. We just bundle them together in a house and let them rot until they are in the earth.

Kaffe-med-kaka

What camera do you use?
A C905, my cell phone, a Sony HD, a small handy movie camera and a digital camera.

Alongside your artwork and photography, you also make very sweet and dreamy instrumental music with a piano under the name of Petit Soleil. What creative medium do you find the most satisfaction in?
Right now it’s drawing and photography, but I really want to create music. It is the greatest art of them all! Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons: now he really makes music. He will die happy because he sings so beautifully.

Kaffe-med-kaka
What are your artistic tastes? What art, films and music do you draw inspiration from?
Joy Division, and lots of movies. I get a bit inspired of Derek Jarman, and I love the art from 1500-1700.

What creative outlet have you not tried yet that you would like to?
Feminist porn, stage performances and making a feature film.

You present a unique and strange world for those who view your work to step into – what would be the sights and sounds of your dream world?
A gray house on top of a hill; the world is totally gray and there is an avenue to the house which is surrounded by many giant bare black trees. And I’d like to live in one of Oscar Wilde’s stories…
Kaffe-med-kaka 6
Thuva-Lisa Ceder.

Thuva-Lisa Ceder is the creator and star of her own little world where the strange is praised and practiced. Since discovering her now defunct blog, help Le Petit Nuage, case a year and half (ish) ago, case I have been drawn to that world, peeking in with a morbid wide eyed curiosity, entranced by the peculiarities and oddities put on display. Ceder, a nineteen year old Swede, shares her art via Flickr and Tumblr – photographs, illustrations and collages- showcasing a style distinctly her own. A startling kaleidoscope of the strange and the darkly erotic, all seemingly from another time and a faraway world, which holds the ability to both perplex and charm a viewer-if they aren’t easily offended. Perhaps most surprising to the unsuspecting may be Ceder’s illustrations.

Kaffe-med-kaka

Drawn and coloured in felt pens or pencil, the illustrations appear to the less observant eye to be a child’s drawings (Glitter! Shiny star stickers! Flowers! Polka Dots!), artwork of which any parent of a small child would be proud. That is, until Mom and Dad realize that the people (notably, very well-endowed in the eyebrow department) rarely have any on pants…and they are often touching each other or themselves in those special places. Graphic enough a child psychologist would likely proclaim them as the troubling doodles of a “disturbed child” with the utmost bewilderment, prompting him to exclaim, “Kids today! Harrumph!” while running his hand over his graying unruly beard. Naturally, I was intrigued. It’s not the first time stylistically childlike art has featured adult subjects, but Ceder owns her style and keeps it fresh.

Kaffe-med-kaka

I caught up with the Miss Thuva-Lisa Ceder to see just what is going on inside that brain of hers.

When did you first start experimenting with art?
From the day I was born. I made many dolls and lots of clothes out of curtains. I loved making my own toys.

The themes in your artwork, both photography and drawings, suggest you gravitate toward the dark and morbid, the openly erotic, and the bizarre and experimental- what inspires this point of view?
The World: society, how it works, my life, old people and asexuality. I am also inspired by a desire to be loved and a disgust for certain parts of society.

This point of view is intriguingly filtered through childlike imagery in your drawings. Glitter, star stickers, and flowers combined with pubic hair, nipples and fishnet stockings seem like an unlikely pairing. Can you tell us more about the subjects of your illustrations?
I mostly draw females/males that are like me in one way or another. I want them to express some feeling, and I don’t always know what that is so sometimes my hand just decides what it’s going to be so I don’t think that much about it.

Kaffe-med-kaka

How did you start to develop your style?
A friend of mine inspired me with the eyebrows. Before I drew more stuff like cute cats (when I was younger) but now I prefer to draw elderly sweet male/females that are angry.

I really like the collaged pieces- the mixture of your drawings or pieces of photographs layered on top of other photographs is really neat. What type of images do you look for when you make your collages?
Images that I think would be great together – whatever that is- my mouth, an old lady, whatever, stuff that will express something.

My particular favorite is the very endearing image of the unicorn venturing up an older woman’s arm. How did you come up with this?
Oh, it was only by pure chance. I found the lady who I cut out from a newspaper and loved the picture, also I loved unicorns… and suddenly it became a collage.

Kaffe-med-kaka

About your photography: You are often the subject of your photography: self-portraits of everyday activities such as you smoking or holding your pet bunny to nude images of yourself huddled inside a suitcase or topless in your bathtub. Why does nudity play such an important role in your work?
We were born nude.

Self-portraits, photographs of friends and family, nature, creepy old houses, etc… What is your favorite to shoot?
Definitely old people, they have a whole life behind them and are knowledgeable about things. They will soon die. I just like that they are much more interesting than stupid young people or 40-year-old men who shout insults after you when they are drunk. They are so calm, waiting to die. Also, we all will get old someday and it feels like we don’t give a shit for the old ones. We just bundle them together in a house and let them rot until they are in the earth.

Kaffe-med-kaka

What camera do you use?
A C905, my cell phone, a Sony HD, a small handy movie camera and a digital camera.

Alongside your artwork and photography, you also make very sweet and dreamy instrumental music with a piano under the name of Petit Soleil. What creative medium do you find the most satisfaction in?
Right now it’s drawing and photography, but I really want to create music. It is the greatest art of them all! Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons: now he really makes music. He will die happy because he sings so beautifully.

Kaffe-med-kaka
What are your artistic tastes? What art, films and music do you draw inspiration from?
Joy Division, and lots of movies. I get a bit inspired of Derek Jarman, and I love the art from 1500-1700.

What creative outlet have you not tried yet that you would like to?
Feminist porn, stage performances and making a feature film.

You present a unique and strange world for those who view your work to step into – what would be the sights and sounds of your dream world?
I dream of a totally gray world: there’s a gray house on top of a hill and an avenue up to the house that is surrounded by many giant bare black trees. Or alternatively I’d like to live inside one of Oscar Wilde’s stories…
Kaffe-med-kaka 6

Thuva-Lisa Ceder is the creator and star of her own little world where the strange is praised and practiced. Since discovering her now defunct blog, cost Le Petit Nuage, a year and half (ish) ago, I have been drawn to that world, peeking in with a morbid wide eyed curiosity, entranced by the peculiarities and oddities put on display. Ceder, a nineteen year old Swede, shares her art via Flickr and Tumblr – photographs, illustrations and collages- showcasing a style distinctly her own. A startling kaleidoscope of the strange and the darkly erotic, all seemingly from another time and a faraway world, which holds the ability to both perplex and charm a viewer-if they aren’t easily offended. Perhaps most surprising to the unsuspecting may be Ceder’s illustrations.

Kaffe-med-kaka

Drawn and coloured in felt pens or pencil, the illustrations appear to the less observant eye to be a child’s drawings (Glitter! Shiny star stickers! Flowers! Polka Dots!), artwork of which any parent of a small child would be proud. That is, until Mom and Dad realize that the people (notably, very well-endowed in the eyebrow department) rarely have any on pants…and they are often touching each other or themselves in those special places. Graphic enough a child psychologist would likely proclaim them as the troubling doodles of a “disturbed child” with the utmost bewilderment, prompting him to exclaim, “Kids today! Harrumph!” while running his hand over his graying unruly beard. Naturally, I was intrigued. It’s not the first time stylistically childlike art has featured adult subjects, but Ceder owns her style and keeps it fresh.

Kaffe-med-kaka

I caught up with the Miss Thuva-Lisa Ceder to see just what is going on inside that brain of hers.

When did you first start experimenting with art?
From the day I was born. I made many dolls and lots of clothes out of curtains. I loved making my own toys.

The themes in your artwork, both photography and drawings, suggest you gravitate toward the dark and morbid, the openly erotic, and the bizarre and experimental- what inspires this point of view?
The World: society, how it works, my life, old people and asexuality. I am also inspired by a desire to be loved and a disgust for certain parts of society.

This point of view is intriguingly filtered through childlike imagery in your drawings. Glitter, star stickers, and flowers combined with pubic hair, nipples and fishnet stockings seem like an unlikely pairing. Can you tell us more about the subjects of your illustrations?
I mostly draw females/males that are like me in one way or another. I want them to express some feeling, and I don’t always know what that is so sometimes my hand just decides what it’s going to be so I don’t think that much about it.

Kaffe-med-kaka

How did you start to develop your style?
A friend of mine inspired me with the eyebrows. Before I drew more stuff like cute cats (when I was younger) but now I prefer to draw elderly sweet male/females that are angry.

I really like the collaged pieces- the mixture of your drawings or pieces of photographs layered on top of other photographs is really neat. What type of images do you look for when you make your collages?
Images that I think would be great together – whatever that is- my mouth, an old lady, whatever, stuff that will express something.

My particular favorite is the very endearing image of the unicorn venturing up an older woman’s arm. How did you come up with this?
Oh, it was only by pure chance. I found the lady who I cut out from a newspaper and loved the picture, also I loved unicorns… and suddenly it became a collage.

Kaffe-med-kaka

About your photography: You are often the subject of your photography: self-portraits of everyday activities such as you smoking or holding your pet bunny to nude images of yourself huddled inside a suitcase or topless in your bathtub. Why does nudity play such an important role in your work?
We were born nude.

Self-portraits, photographs of friends and family, nature, creepy old houses, etc… What is your favorite to shoot?
Definitely old people, they have a whole life behind them and are knowledgeable about things. They will soon die. I just like that they are much more interesting than stupid young people or 40-year-old men who shout insults after you when they are drunk. They are so calm, waiting to die. Also, we all will get old someday and it feels like we don’t give a shit for the old ones. We just bundle them together in a house and let them rot until they are in the earth.

Kaffe-med-kaka

What camera do you use?
A C905, my cell phone, a Sony HD, a small handy movie camera and a digital camera.

Alongside your artwork and photography, you also make very sweet and dreamy instrumental music with a piano under the name of Petit Soleil. What creative medium do you find the most satisfaction in?
Right now it’s drawing and photography, but I really want to create music. It is the greatest art of them all! Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons: now he really makes music. He will die happy because he sings so beautifully.

Kaffe-med-kaka
What are your artistic tastes? What art, films and music do you draw inspiration from?
Joy Division, and lots of movies. I get a bit inspired of Derek Jarman, and I love the art from 1500-1700.

What creative outlet have you not tried yet that you would like to?
Feminist porn, stage performances and I’d like to make a feature film.

You present a unique and strange world for those who view your work to step into – what would be the sights and sounds of your dream world?
I dream of a totally gray world: there’s a gray house on top of a hill and an avenue up to the house that is surrounded by many giant bare black trees. Or alternatively I’d like to live inside one of Oscar Wilde’s stories…
Kaffe-med-kaka 6

Thuva-Lisa Ceder is the creator and star of her own little world where the strange is praised and practiced. Since discovering her now defunct blog, more about Le Petit Nuage, clinic a year and half (ish) ago, more about I have been drawn to that world, peeking in with a morbid wide eyed curiosity, entranced by the peculiarities and oddities put on display. Ceder, a nineteen year old Swede, shares her art via Flickr and Tumblr – photographs, illustrations and collages- showcasing a style distinctly her own. A startling kaleidoscope of the strange and the darkly erotic, all seemingly from another time and a faraway world, which holds the ability to both perplex and charm a viewer-if they aren’t easily offended. Perhaps most surprising to the unsuspecting may be Ceder’s illustrations.

Kaffe-med-kaka

Drawn and coloured in felt pens or pencil, the illustrations appear to the less observant eye to be a child’s drawings (Glitter! Shiny star stickers! Flowers! Polka Dots!), artwork of which any parent of a small child would be proud. That is, until Mom and Dad realize that the people (notably, very well-endowed in the eyebrow department) rarely have any on pants…and they are often touching each other or themselves in those special places. Graphic enough a child psychologist would likely proclaim them as the troubling doodles of a “disturbed child” with the utmost bewilderment, prompting him to exclaim, “Kids today! Harrumph!” while running his hand over his graying unruly beard. Naturally, I was intrigued. It’s not the first time stylistically childlike art has featured adult subjects, but Ceder owns her style and keeps it fresh.

Kaffe-med-kaka

I caught up with the Miss Thuva-Lisa Ceder to see just what is going on inside that brain of hers.

When did you first start experimenting with art?
From the day I was born. I made many dolls and lots of clothes out of curtains. I loved making my own toys.

The themes in your artwork, both photography and drawings, suggest you gravitate toward the dark and morbid, the openly erotic, and the bizarre and experimental- what inspires this point of view?
The World: society, how it works, my life, old people and asexuality. I am also inspired by a desire to be loved and a disgust for certain parts of society.

This point of view is intriguingly filtered through childlike imagery in your drawings. Glitter, star stickers, and flowers combined with pubic hair, nipples and fishnet stockings seem like an unlikely pairing. Can you tell us more about the subjects of your illustrations?
I mostly draw females/males that are like me in one way or another. I want them to express some feeling, and I don’t always know what that is so sometimes my hand just decides what it’s going to be so I don’t think that much about it.

Kaffe-med-kaka

How did you start to develop your style?
A friend of mine inspired me with the eyebrows. Before I drew more stuff like cute cats (when I was younger) but now I prefer to draw elderly sweet male/females that are angry.

I really like the collaged pieces- the mixture of your drawings or pieces of photographs layered on top of other photographs is really neat. What type of images do you look for when you make your collages?
Images that I think would be great together – whatever that is- my mouth, an old lady, whatever, stuff that will express something.

My particular favorite is the very endearing image of the unicorn venturing up an older woman’s arm. How did you come up with this?
Oh, it was only by pure chance. I found the lady who I cut out from a newspaper and loved the picture, also I loved unicorns… and suddenly it became a collage.

Kaffe-med-kaka

About your photography: You are often the subject of your photography: self-portraits of everyday activities such as you smoking or holding your pet bunny to nude images of yourself huddled inside a suitcase or topless in your bathtub. Why does nudity play such an important role in your work?
We were born nude.

Self-portraits, photographs of friends and family, nature, creepy old houses, etc… What is your favorite to shoot?
Definitely old people, they have a whole life behind them and are knowledgeable about things. They will soon die. I just like that they are much more interesting than stupid young people or 40-year-old men who shout insults after you when they are drunk. They are so calm, waiting to die. Also, we all will get old someday and it feels like we don’t give a shit for the old ones. We just bundle them together in a house and let them rot until they are in the earth.

Kaffe-med-kaka

What camera do you use?
A C905, my cell phone, a Sony HD, a small handy movie camera and a digital camera.

Alongside your artwork and photography, you also make very sweet and dreamy instrumental music with a piano under the name of Petit Soleil. What creative medium do you find the most satisfaction in?
Right now it’s drawing and photography, but I really want to create music. It is the greatest art of them all! Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons: now he really makes music. He will die happy because he sings so beautifully.

Kaffe-med-kaka
What are your artistic tastes? What art, films and music do you draw inspiration from?
Joy Division, and lots of movies. I get a bit inspired of Derek Jarman, and I love the art from 1500-1700.

What creative outlet have you not tried yet that you would like to?
Feminist porn, stage performances and I’d like to make a feature film.

You present a unique and strange world for those who view your work to step into – what would be the sights and sounds of your dream world?
I dream of a totally gray world: there’s a gray house on top of a hill and an avenue up to the house that is surrounded by many giant bare black trees. Or alternatively I’d like to live inside one of Oscar Wilde’s stories…
Kaffe-med-kaka 6
Thuva-Lisa Ceder is the creator and star of her own little world where the strange is praised and practiced. Since discovering her now defunct blog, tadalafil Le Petit Nuage, a year and half (ish) ago, I have been drawn to that world, peeking in with a morbid wide eyed curiosity, entranced by the peculiarities and oddities put on display. Ceder, a nineteen year old Swede, shares her art via Flickr and Tumblr – photographs, illustrations and collages- showcasing a style distinctly her own. A startling kaleidoscope of the strange and the darkly erotic, all seemingly from another time and a faraway world, which holds the ability to both perplex and charm a viewer-if they aren’t easily offended. Perhaps most surprising to the unsuspecting may be Ceder’s illustrations.

Kaffe-med-kaka

Drawn and coloured in felt pens or pencil, the illustrations appear to the less observant eye to be a child’s drawings (Glitter! Shiny star stickers! Flowers! Polka Dots!), artwork of which any parent of a small child would be proud. That is, until Mom and Dad realize that the people (notably, very well-endowed in the eyebrow department) rarely have any on pants…and they are often touching each other or themselves in those special places. Graphic enough a child psychologist would likely proclaim them as the troubling doodles of a “disturbed child” with the utmost bewilderment, prompting him to exclaim, “Kids today! Harrumph!” while running his hand over his graying unruly beard. Naturally, I was intrigued. It’s not the first time stylistically childlike art has featured adult subjects, but Ceder owns her style and keeps it fresh.

Kaffe-med-kaka

I caught up with the Miss Thuva-Lisa Ceder to see just what is going on inside that brain of hers.

When did you first start experimenting with art?
From the day I was born. I made many dolls and lots of clothes out of curtains. I loved making my own toys.

The themes in your artwork, both photography and drawings, suggest you gravitate toward the dark and morbid, the openly erotic, and the bizarre and experimental- what inspires this point of view?
The World: society, how it works, my life, old people and asexuality. I am also inspired by a desire to be loved and a disgust for certain parts of society.

This point of view is intriguingly filtered through childlike imagery in your drawings. Glitter, star stickers, and flowers combined with pubic hair, nipples and fishnet stockings seem like an unlikely pairing. Can you tell us more about the subjects of your illustrations?
I mostly draw females/males that are like me in one way or another. I want them to express some feeling, and I don’t always know what that is so sometimes my hand just decides what it’s going to be so I don’t think that much about it.

Kaffe-med-kaka

How did you start to develop your style?
A friend of mine inspired me with the eyebrows. Before I drew more stuff like cute cats (when I was younger) but now I prefer to draw elderly sweet male/females that are angry.

I really like the collaged pieces- the mixture of your drawings or pieces of photographs layered on top of other photographs is really neat. What type of images do you look for when you make your collages?
Images that I think would be great together – whatever that is- my mouth, an old lady, whatever, stuff that will express something.

My particular favorite is the very endearing image of the unicorn venturing up an older woman’s arm. How did you come up with this?
Oh, it was only by pure chance. I found the lady who I cut out from a newspaper and loved the picture, also I loved unicorns… and suddenly it became a collage.

Kaffe-med-kaka

About your photography: You are often the subject of your photography: self-portraits of everyday activities such as you smoking or holding your pet bunny to nude images of yourself huddled inside a suitcase or topless in your bathtub. Why does nudity play such an important role in your work?
We were born nude.

Self-portraits, photographs of friends and family, nature, creepy old houses, etc… What is your favorite to shoot?
Definitely old people, they have a whole life behind them and are knowledgeable about things. They will soon die. I just like that they are much more interesting than stupid young people or 40-year-old men who shout insults after you when they are drunk. They are so calm, waiting to die. Also, we all will get old someday and it feels like we don’t give a shit for the old ones. We just bundle them together in a house and let them rot until they are in the earth.

Kaffe-med-kaka

What camera do you use?
A C905, my cell phone, a Sony HD, a small handy movie camera and a digital camera.

Alongside your artwork and photography, you also make very sweet and dreamy instrumental music with a piano under the name of Petit Soleil. What creative medium do you find the most satisfaction in?
Right now it’s drawing and photography, but I really want to create music. It is the greatest art of them all! Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons: now he really makes music. He will die happy because he sings so beautifully.

Kaffe-med-kaka
What are your artistic tastes? What art, films and music do you draw inspiration from?
Joy Division, and lots of movies. I get a bit inspired of Derek Jarman, and I love the art from 1500-1700.

What creative outlet have you not tried yet that you would like to?
Feminist porn, stage performances and I’d like to make a feature film.

You present a unique and strange world for those who view your work to step into – what would be the sights and sounds of your dream world?
I dream of a totally gray world: there’s a gray house on top of a hill and an avenue up to the house that is surrounded by many giant bare black trees. Or alternatively I’d like to live inside one of Oscar Wilde’s stories…

I have to try very hard not to lose myself over records like this. I have to try very hard not to declare things that should not be declared because they are justifiable only on the level that constitutes subjective taste. My experience of The National, website like this as a band, medications tied in as it is with so much other emotional baggage and inescapable context, visit this is an extremely fraught one. Listen to this band without any of that and I suspect you would be bored. If you are, I cannot tell you that you are wrong – I can only say that I pity you.

At the basest level, The National are just five friends from Ohio who moved to New York and started a band that played music that sounded something like a cross between Wilco and Tindersticks. Their first two albums are acceptable but not remarkable, and their audiences reflected that. When they toured Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers I doubt that they had people in the audience in tears, or screaming with joy, or going through shudders and shakes – and why would they? They’re five scrawny Ohioans. They don’t have a particularly great light show. They stand relatively still (until the end, after Matt Berninger’s had his fill of wine). But ever since Alligator came out… Well. Just look at the faces in the crowd, though. Just look at them. I am not a religious man, but I still understand words like rapture, like transcendent, like faith. Five guys, making rock music. That’s all. People across the world lose their shit over this, a greater number with every release and every tour. Why?

Here’s where it gets tricky. High Violet is their latest album and has been greeted everywhere with exactly the kind of respect and admiration everyone expected, because it is exactly as good as everyone had hoped and prayed for. My little bit of guesswork – we’re looking at a band which taps into something so primordially potent that they must constitute the most recent incarnation of the Great American Rock Band. They might not be selling out arenas (yet) but they are selling out the next-biggest range of venues in the major cities of the world – all they’re missing is their ‘The One I Love’ and their ascent will be effectively complete. The story of how The National became so adored is the same story as the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the story of every massive hit and every youth movement that played the guitar – the sound is good, and it’s good for a lot of people.

Oh, that sound. Production is again in the hands of Peter Katis, the man responsible for that haze we first heard on Alligator in 2005 – I always like to imagine the band fashioning microphones from large pieces of tin, or something of a similar texture, similarly rustic. It’s a rusty, metallic, quivering shout in the night, balancing the three components that make the band what they are – Bryan Devendorf’s apocalyptic drumming, the Dessner brothers’ elegiac guitar work, and Matt Berninger’s baritone drawl. They first hit on this balance with Alligator, then perfected it with Boxer in 2007 (just, please, don’t ask which is better). Boxer’s gothic echoes have been muted for High Violet – the songs no longer rebound down some corridor but instead stick, firmly, right inside the speakers (though perhaps ‘Lemonworld’ might be the exception to this).

Some tracks sound like hangovers from the Boxer era – ‘Bloodbuzz, Ohio’ and the incredible ‘Terrible Love’ (which is sadly not quite as monolithic, as epic, as it is in the live environment thanks to the bizarre decision to use a demo guitar track on the otherwise polished recording, a move which makes it sound tinny, like AM radio) – and ‘Runaway’ feels like it was composed in the same mood as ‘So Far Around The Bend’, their contribution to the 2009 charity compilation Dark Was The Night. The other songs on the first side of the record actually call to mind, weirdly, their second album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and the country-rock tinge that graced that record. The songs are far, far superior to anything that appeared on there, but the tone is noticeably similar. The second side, however, running from ‘Lemonworld’ through to ‘Runaway’, through to ‘Conversation 16’, ‘England’, and then the closer ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’, is a knockout punch. A home run. The best stretch of songs in their entire career; no small declaration, but that’s what they are.

Now I begin to lose myself, but bear with me. The National tell you, me, everyone, about all the little niggling things that contribute to the neuroses of living the Western lifestyle in this day and age, but they reassure as they do it. I am a white male coming of age in a world where my dominance is not assured, and my confidence is brittle at best. I was never carried in the arms of cheerleaders, but more importantly I know what they mean; I know what it feels like to, “live on coffee and flowers,” and I confess that some days I want nothing more than to, “hold myself together with my arms around the stereo for hours.” The National’s music is excellent, but it is Matt Berninger’s voice, his delivery and his lyrics that leave me and so many others comforted – when ‘Fake Empire’ opened Boxer, when he sang, “let’s not try to figure out everything at once,” well, that’s the wisdom I’d wanted all along, right there.

You can see this reaction amongst the faces, eager and expectant, at their concerts. During ‘Apartment Story’, the song builds towards this single, simple sentiment: “So worry not/All things are well/ We’ll be alright/We have our looks, and perfume.” The audience will scream this, they will scream it and throw up their fists as they shout the word ‘perfume’. I suppose it could be argued that the combination of melancholy and euphoria is the most potent force in rock music – the way some people react, you’d think that they were expecting to be taken up in the rapture the moment the opening chords from ‘Mr November’ chime in.

There are these recurring motifs throughout Berninger’s lyrics – one that’s particularly obtuse is the recurring lemon motif in songs like ‘The Geese of Beverly Road’, ‘Fake Empire’ and ‘Lemonworld’ – but above all there’s the idea of decay in the American life. When he talks about hanging from chandeliers, subsisting on little but flowers, coffee and cake, pissing in sinks, floating down hallways, standing up straight at the foot of one’s love, spilling jack & coke on her collar, being so sorry, for everything, for everything… These are the words of the desperate romantic, the words of a man who comes from a declined area of a country in decline. It can all be so terribly sad, but it’s the kind of melancholy that infects the poet, not the suicidal. Out of decay come creation, or something of that sort. This is what goes on in my head when I hear him sing – whilst others may well just hear a man singing strange songs of ballerinas, “on the coffee table, cock in hand,” and dismiss the whole thing, I consider that a mistake. The breadth of interpretation is part of the charm.

And so once again they’ve finished up with a perfect closer, one that might seem slightly saccharine with all those strings but which still strikes that perfect combination – melancholia tempered with euphoria. ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Cry’ builds and builds, and Berninger remains astride the sound, telling us that, “all the very best of us string ourselves up.” Is it perverse? Is it depressing? Is it a release? I’ve not a clue. But boring? Nah.

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