The National - High Violet
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2010 Ratings: #11 / 900
Year End Rank: #4
User Score
Based on 850 ratings
2010 Ratings: #11
Liked by 32 people
May 10, 2010 / Release Date
LP / Format
4AD / Label
The National / Producer
Indie Rock / Genres
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A.V. Club

High Violet is carefully considered without being labored, richly detailed without being fussy.


There isn't a bad song on the album, and generally when people say things like that they seem to imply that there are still a few duds here and there. But High Violet is literally free of weak moments.

The Skinny
The bold grandeur and breathtaking finesse of The National's current form is unmistakable.
Drowned in Sound

It is a wild, vivid romance that The National make their own, and on High Violet it sounds just as striking, just as wild, just as vivid as ever.

Tiny Mix Tapes

High Violet isn’t simply The National’s best album; it’s already one of the strongest album of this young decade and will likely continue to be, even in another nine years from now.


If all of the band’s records had a loose thematic core running through to them, High Violet is the band’s most grown up record – mirroring the now late-30something group’s outlook on life.

No Ripcord

The National’s latest is easily up there with the very best indie-rock records of the year.

Consequence of Sound

They’ve taken some minor risks, tailored their sound, and emerged with a record that can stand confidently beside Boxer and Alligator, all without overdoing or losing any of its predecessors’ merits.

Slant Magazine

There’s a wry beauty in subtle morbidity, and the National has struck it on High Violet.

The 405

With High Violet they are not just playing on the tension like Boxer but taking that idea and building on it, and thats the thing with The National. They build, they build honestly and meaningfully, they build a place inside your heart. Each album sits like a footprint in the snow.

Loud and Quiet

This band has a peerless ability to make music which seeps into your consciousness, slowly ferments and finally produces a musical wine of such intoxicating majesty you’re left dumbstruck.


"High Violet" synthesizes the best parts of the National's past into a fantastic present.


High Violet is one of those rare albums where a band’s rising profile and rising talent meet in a perfect storm of anticipation and excellence.

Pretty Much Amazing

Everyone keeps saying that this is a sad album. It’s not. It’s an honest album, a real album. And it’s breathtaking.


High Violet is the sound of a band taking a mandate to be a meaningful rock band seriously, and they play the part so fully that, to some, it may be off-putting.

Coke Machine Glow

A massive, dynamic album that still makes good on the National’s devotion to meticulous production and a sound they’ve kept simple and distinctive for a decade.

Entertainment Weekly

Their fifth album High Violet is slow to blossom; its sumptuous layers and stately pace can feel almost funereal, and frontman Matt Berninger often sounds badly in need of Paxil. But Violet eventually burrows in, and stays.


Though High Violet lacks the front-to-back consistency that made Boxer such an unmitigated revelation, the new album’s peaks absolutely rival Boxer’s best tracks.


High Violet summons up perfectly and terribly the sneaking suspicion you start getting in your 20s that possibilities are closing off, that your life might not turn out the way you wanted it to, and that there’s probably no-one else to blame but yourself.


Darker and more introspectively brooding than ever, in places it’s the most immediate National effort since their overlooked eponymous debut.


Simmering more than it strikes, High Violet coaxes you into baroque indie darkness rather than shines bright pop lights.

The Guardian

Crafted from humming guitars, tinkling pianos, militaristic drumming and occasional orchestration, their fifth album is beautifully subtle and grows in power with each listen.

NOW Magazine

Building on 2007's Boxer, High Violet should keep the melancholic band's aging indie fans crying into the future.

Spectrum Culture

There is unarguably a gravity to both Berninger’s voice and the band’s musical sensibilities that carry the album. It’s this combination that makes these songs so visceral and emotionally impacting.

Beats Per Minute

Should I be so surprised that High Violet ... represents their most, self-serious, dour and morose release yet? 


Muscular, miserable, mighty, and meandering, High Violet aims for the seats, but only hits about half of them.

Under The Radar

High Violet is a fine album, a very, very solid effort that contains some marvelous storytelling and near perfect execution. There are no faults to speak of. But that electricity, that fly by the seat of your pants thrill is something that eludes The National.

Rolling Stone

Singer Matt Berninger's gorgeous baritone is still the band's main selling point ... Yet the tension comes mainly from composers Aaron and Bryce Dessner: The music is some of their lushest and darkest.


Despite a sincere lack of happy hardcore bangers or light-relief comedy skits, ‘High Violet’ is a tight, no-nonsense follow-up to 2007’s critically acclaimed ‘Boxer’.

The Needle Drop

The National's latest is loaded with lush production and somber vocals, but the album may be a little too melancholy for its own good.

High Violet, sees the National slowing turning to the more chamber pop oriented soundscape for their indie rock for quite a grand and mellow listen which offers some of the most introspective and sadness lyrics the band has put out and thus creates quite an emotional 47 minute rollercoaster and still stands as one of my favorite from the band.

Track Review

Terrible Love 9.5/10
Sorrow 9/10
Anyone’s Ghost 8.5/10.
Little Faith 8/10
Afraid of Everyone 8.5/10.
Bloodbuzz Ohio ... read more
You may be allergic to The National but their "High Violet" is as epic, syrupy, orchestral and grandiloquent as their previous album. The National never ventures far from its musical essence, always in a baroque romanticism, a tone that is found in their previous efforts and defines the band's identity. This beauty, the ruthless music critics will call it mainstream, as if this music, because it obeys melodic rules, lost its charm. Too bad for those... For others, it's like falling ... read more
Eh, not my favourite National album.

Standout: Bloodbuzz Ohio
Favs: Sorrow, Afraid of Everyone, Anyone’s Ghost
Least fav: Runaway
High Violet takes the momentum of Boxer and runs with the ball down an even more lush area of sound. The tone of High Violet feels very familiar, with the usual baritone vocals of Berninger, but the instrumentation feels even fuller than previous records.

The brimming nature of The National's sound is something that had been surely explored on previous records, but here on High Violet that heavy production comes at a breakneck pace throughout this album with only fleeting moments in which any ... read more
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