Master crafters

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  May 28, 2010

He’s being modest, of course: “the same thing” for the band entails densely woven songs with enough rock-and-roll punch and melodic heft to linger in your craw long after the last notes fade. High Violet has much that could be considered sad-sack melodrama from a lesser band, but in the National’s hands, drowsy downers like “Sorrow” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio” are filled with jittery and tense percussive touches and moments of churchy elegance that elevate them from pop songs to paeans to the power of the human heart.

“There’s something very formal about making a record,” Devendorf adds. “For us musicians in the band, it involves work — and sometimes overworking of material. For Matt, since he’s the singer and lyricist, that work is more editorial. He’s more of a literary guy than a singer/songwriter. So he’s almost working on short stories. He’ll work on demos and revise and edit and revise and edit. Maybe he’ll throw out all his revisions at a certain point and go back to the original.”

If this all sounds like a lot of work and not a lot of crazy rock-and-roll antics, too bad. Behind every wild-eyed rock star trashing his proverbial hotel room is a half-miserable person who’s spent countless 20-hour days in a studio obsessing over a song, track by grueling track. The National are just unafraid to show their work. “Sometimes the hard part,” Devendorf concludes, “is to know when to keep working and when to pull back and let the paint dry, you know?”

THE NATIONAL + THE ANTLERS | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | June 2-3 at 9 pm | $25-$35 | 888.693.BLUE or hob.com

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