The National - Sleep Well Beast
Critic Score
Based on 44 reviews
2017 Ratings: #42 / 887
Year End Rank: #9
User Score
Based on 819 ratings
2017 Ratings: #46
Liked by 28 people
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The Independent

It still feels like it's holding charms that will unfurl with more listens. It is an incredibly cohesive album though - it operates in its own defined space and has an intense frostiness to, which, for The National, is saying something.

A.V. Club

It’s by turns harsh and sweet, downcast and uplifting, angry and resigned. In spite of how quiet it can be, and what the title might instruct, Sleep Well Beast is never restful. In fact, it may be The National’s most agitated album yet.


Sleep Well Beast sees The National flourish with candid lyrics and diverse song craft, embodying the band’s continuing evolution and life’s constant change.

Pretty Much Amazing

These are National songs, and there are certain expectations; but Sleep Well Beast just finds the band meeting them with a consistency not seen since Boxer.

Under The Radar

Sleep Well Beast is the sound of one of the best bands of this decade pulling new sounds into their repertoire and making those sounds wholly theirs. It's difficult to deny music this well-crafted and affecting—and perhaps being able to make anything beautiful and affirming in the Trump era is notable. This is the band's best album since Boxer, and will stand as one of the year's best.

Tiny Mix Tapes
This album isn’t a great work of art, and it’s not an answer, but it does get pretty close to capturing what it means to be a fucked-up person who wants to maintain what’s good in their life despite the feeling that they’ll eventually destroy it one way or another. This is that “midnight, six drinks in” shit, and it’s also that “sober at 5 AM, staring at the ceiling” shit. Few albums today do it this well.

Sleep Well Beast is the place where the walls between the National’s past demons and their anxiety for the future have violently fractured, provoking It’s a lesson that no matter how dark it can get down there, all our monsters can be put to bed.

The 405

To my mind it’s the best National album since Boxer; and for argument’s sake, Devendorf’s drumming hasn’t been this vital for ten years.

Consequence of Sound

Sleep Well Beast certainly takes the air out of the hopeful balloon that swelled on Trouble Will Find Me, but if there’s ever been a time to wallow in lush, masculine melancholy, it’s now. This beast isn’t going anywhere.


‘Sleep Well Beast’ is a nuanced, intricate record and one that really flourishes numerous listens in. The National have long been a band to focus on the details but that’s the case here more than ever.

Rolling Stone
The result is a disarmingly potent album, not just emotionally but politically as well.

Electronics are used for texture and shade, vocal harmonies glide through the mix, pianos anchor a couple of tunes -- all subtle gradients within the National's recognizable formula, but they're enough to give Sleep Well Beast a distinct character.

Drowned in Sound
The things that make this band a real treasure can all still be found here –the slightly beat-up romanticism, the pessimism of the secret optimist, the big, bold beauty of the melodies, the detailed imperfect perfection of the music. There’s still so much here worth hanging on for.
The Skinny
Overall The National have survived their electronic ring of fire relatively unscathed.

Sleep Well Beast, the National's best LP since Boxer, features some of the band's most raucous numbers to date, as well as a newfound use of electronics.


Sleep Well Beast is as sad a record as The National have ever made, and yet it also feels like their most hopeful.

Putting an open marriage counselling session to tape and adding new textures to their now-signature sound, The National are as vital as ever.
Crack Magazine

The National’s back-catalogue steps the line between matter-of-fact realism and existential dread, and Sleep Well Beast succeeds in pushing past the narcissisms and ironies of their previous album Trouble Will Find Me into a more expansive realm of abstract thought.

It’s all very 2017. And it’s an album on which Matt Berninger, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and Bryan and Scott Devendorf stray outside the previously clearly defined lines of what The National sound is.
The Guardian

Nuanced, understated, restrained: you could apply the same adjectives to much of the music here, which turns out to be rather more of a mixed blessing.

American Songwriter

For most veteran bands, the beast is complacency. The National slays it here and stays on top of the rock world in the process.

They don’t reinvent the band’s image so much as carefully muss its hair a bit, unfasten one more button on its shirt collar. They are still a good dinner-party band, but now they’ve made the album for when the wine starts spilling on the rug, the tablecloth is rumpled, the music has imperceptibly gotten louder, and all those friendly conversations have turned a little too heated.
No Ripcord

The changes are slight in Sleep Well Beast, but they still render quite significantly in view of how they have a pressure to upend any expectations.

God Is in the TV

For anyone with Borderline Personality Disorder, Sleep Well Beast is your anthemic survival guide to the modern world. Dismiss them at your peril. they’re not done yet.

As with all of the band’s works, ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is an album that rewards repeat listens and unfurls its beauty slowly over time: The National have yet again made an album that’s as brilliant as it is ambitious.
The Observer

Nothing on Sleep Well Beast is headline-new. But you are either in singer Matt Berninger’s corner, clinging on as he drills down into his anxieties, or you are wondering why even validated white guys in first-world countries can still eat themselves up inside so insatiably.


“Dad Rock” or not, Sleep Well Beast is anything but complacent and it doesn’t skew from the high-caliber rock and roll the band has been producing since day one.

The Line of Best Fit

This isn’t The National’s finest album – for my money, that’s still High Violet, or if I’m feeling fruity, Alligator – but there’s much to cherish on Sleep Well Beast. And it really matters that a band as capable of thoughtful, intimate commentary (both personal and political) are as big as The National are now.

Slant Magazine

The National continues to display highly polished craftsmanship of simmering balladry on Sleep Well Beast.

Loud and Quiet
‘Sleep Well Beast’ sticks to the idea that if you sit with a National album long enough, it’ll always reel you in – guitar solos and all.

There is, after all, an inherent paradox facing any band at this stage in their career: remain stagnant and you'll risk being labelled tiring; stray too far and you may alienate the substantial following you've amassed over the years. Thankfully, the National have deftly manage that balancing act with Sleep Well Beast, a record that is equal parts familiar and fresh.

The Needle Drop

Sleep Well Beast is The National's most vibrant and engaging set of songs in years.

Northern Transmissions

There’s no question that The National know how to compose gripping music, but there execution isn’t on point. Sounding a little tired on their latest effort, the band carries all the sonic brilliance without any passion and often without enough ambition.

This album makes me feel like i'm 90 years old living alone in a small cabin in the middle of nowhere reflecting on everything i've ever been through, ridiculously moving arrangements and melodies accompanied with some crushingly gorgeous writing. Top 5 album of 2017 for sure, should've given it more time when it initially came out honestly.

I feel like I always set these goals for like my 100th review, my 200th review, even though I’m only at 68. And to be honest, I have no idea why I do it. All it ends up doing is delaying reviews I want to do. I get so caught up in these things that I begin to forget this site’s purpose: just a place to rate and review albums. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve also found myself at a bit of a crossroads in terms of how to rate albums. I hate reviewing in a ... read more
This album got me hooked on The National and I think it stands up there with their best albums. Sleep Well Beast is also one of my all time favorite The National songs.
The Nostalgia and Squeejie Power Hour # Beatles Reference lel

apologies for my absence, both on the site and from this challenge. nevertheless, i will finish the challenge and enjoy it while i do it!

anyways, onto the album. this is my first National album and i think it was a very good introduction to the band. the indie rock sound known by me as "depressed English professor whose wardrobe consists of nothing but cardigans and corduroy pants and whose diet consists of nothing but ... read more
Until very recently, The National were a band that I only really knew in passing – I had heard some of their songs on indie radio and some of my favourite bands have noted them as an influence. From what I had heard from them, I never found them as a band interesting enough for me to check out. Of course, when Taylor Swift had announced that The National’s guitarist Aaron Dessner would be working on Folklore (and eventually also Evermore), I figured it would be the right time for me ... read more
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Added on: May 10, 2017