45 rpm: “England” – The National

At the close of 2010, I named Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the best album of the year. However, ten months into 2011 the album from last year that seems to get the most play around this house is The National’s High Violet. In many ways, High Violet‘s best track, “England,” is the ultimate National song. It begins slowly, moodily building toward a raucous, muscular refrain that is as cathartic as it is catchy thanks to the band’s tight arrangements (and Brian Devendorf’s propulsive drumming). Matt Berringer’s vaguely Stipian lyrics are are typically opaque, evoking grand images of cathedrals, angels, London, and Los Angeles. Breathtaking stuff.