Earlier this year, the handsome and erudite indie rock gentlemen of the National released their album First Two Pages Of Frankenstein, which had collaborations with friends like Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift. Next month, the band will stage their Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati, where they’ll share the stage with acts like Pavement and Patti Smith and where they’ll play High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me in full. Today, the National have dropped two entirely new singles.
“Alphabet City” and “Space Invader” are both downbeat, heavy-hearted tracks that fit the general feeling of First Two Pages Of Frankenstein. Both songs are heavily orchestrated, and both of them find Matt Berninger leaning into the deepest cracks and crevices of his voice. “Space Invader,” in particular, gives the band a chance to stretch out. The song, which the band has been playing live since last year, lasts for seven minutes, and it’s got a breakdown/buildup passage that really takes its time.
On the twinkling “Alphabet City,” Matt Berninger seems to sing with deep regret about a decaying relationship: “Take forever off anytime you want/ I’ll save your place/ If anybody asks, I’ll say you’re coming back/ We’ll just have to wait.” On “Space Invader,” he seems to ponder the vagaries of fate: “What if I’d never written the letter I slipped into the sleeve of the record I gave you?/ What if I stayed on the C train until Lafayette?/ What if we never met?” The two songs have videos drawn and animated by Pauline de Lassus, otherwise known as longtime National collaborator Mina Tindle. Listen to both below.
“Alphabet City” and “Space Invader” are both out now on 4AD.