Also, I can't resist posting the opening paragraph of Alex Denney's review of High Violet for The Quietus. It's one of the best descriptions of The National that I've come across:
Empathy isn't a virtue readily associated with rock's emotionally-charged climes, trafficking as they usually do in excess and ego-driven chicanery of every description. The National honed their art to a supremely nuanced stadium rock over the course of four albums culminating in 2007's fantastic Boxer, tilling the poorly nourished soil of modern urban existence to unearth tales of weary self-forgetting, ideals run aground and those bone-chilling moments where the mask of autonomy slips and we see ourselves as we really are in the technocratic, ontologically-unsound west: frightened and alone. Theirs was a world of compromise; a bitter coffee ground comprised of telling defeats and the dreams that linger on, strange and small and sexy as week-old cologne. And if all that sounds like a tough sell, then frontman Matt Berninger's dry-as-dust humour and suave baritone went a long way to sugaring the pill.Full review here.