They had two entries in our albums of the decade list, and with High Violet, due for release on 10th May, it’s looking pretty certain that The National will once again be contenders for a top ten position come 2019 if ‘Terrible Love’ is anything to go by (and I’d venture that it is). In itself, it’s almost the perfect encapsulation of everything that Matt Berninger, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and Bryan and Scott Devendorf have done to date – never ones to sing of romantic contention, Berninger sings, “it takes a lot to settle down,” and “it takes an ocean not to break,” whilst the Dessner brothers contribute near girlish harmonies. There’s the lyrical obliqueness of lines like, “It’s terrible love and I’m walking with spiders,” and a walloping, explosive crescendo the likes of which they’ve never quite allowed themselves before. But it’s not a bombastic assault at the expense of their innumerable, wonderful subtleties – the release only comes after a trademark National build, the kind that pushes lumps up to the throat, releases the terrible butterflies that come before walking down a hall to tell a lover a difficult something, but never makes you want to let go.
I could waffle all night about how much this song has come to mean to me just over the course of one day, and thirty odd listens since hearing it when I woke up this morning. But no amount of words can do this band justice – it suffices just to say that it’s a new song by The National, the name alone acting as a kite mark of sublime quality.