AOTY 2018
The National - Sleep Well Beast
Critic Score
Based on 35 reviews
2017 Ratings: #42 / 715
Year End Rank: #9
User Score
Based on 501 ratings
2017 Ratings: #24
September 8, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
4AD / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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Your Review


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.
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.

2017 album trend:
make the singles catchy, very easy to sing along to and exciting, but make the rest of the album real fuckin sad.
The National are back with that trademark sound, plus a few electronic tweaks. As with all National albums, I find myself warming to it more and more with every listen. There's a lot of nuances and subtle instrumental flourishes scattered throughout which makes me want to explore every nook and cranny of each track.

The drum, guitar and piano playing are beautiful as we've come to expect. But this doesn't feel like a classic National album. There's familiarity here, but it feels like they're ... read more
The National has one minus - the vocalist who makes their music never evolve (lana del rey, michael stipe have the same problem)
Probably in the song Abel went beyond all that they create.

But album as usual on a great level and hard to find the drop of form.
The National continue to age like wine with each new record. If 'High Violet' and 'Trouble Will Find' were records focusing about the struggles and agony of living, 'Sleep Well Beast' is fixed on maintaining yourself and cruising through these adulthood hardships.

Favorite tracks: Day I Die, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, I'll Still Destroy You, Sleep Well Beast
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Track List

  1. Nobody Else Will Be There
  2. Day I Die
  3. Walk It Back
  4. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
  5. Born to Beg
  6. Turtleneck
  7. Empire Line
  8. I'll Still Destroy You
  9. Guilty Party
  10. Carin at the Liquor Store
  11. Dark Side of the Gym
  12. Sleep Well Beast
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Added on: May 10, 2017