The National’s Indistinguishability
I found making a comparison between The Smiths and The National makes for an effective point of contrast. Generally speaking, both bands have a very distinctive sound, unmistakable for any other band (in the case of The National that latter, statement doesn’t hold up as well.) Each respective band has the same kind of instrumentation for the majority of their work. Both rarely (if ever) have, say, guitar solos, or other musical instruments that attract attention to themselves. Instead, it’s all about layering sound. And to cap it all off, each has a distinctive voice as the lead vocalist fronting the band.
Categorically speaking, the bands are very similar, but in execution, they are vastly different. Morrissey’s lyrics may have an overall tone of melancholy, but they can also be playful and literary. Though every song by The Smiths sound distinctively theirs, songs don’t sound like the same monotonous dreck of The National. It feels redundant to say this, but every Smiths song is distinguishable from each other, whether it be the rockabilly of “Rushholme Ruffians,” to the droning “How Soon Is Now?,” to the playfully snide of “Frankly Mr. Shankley.”
Through this comparison, my point is that there is nothing distinguishable about The National. It’s difficult to even call their repetitive sounds a distinctive trait, as it’s “boilerplate indie.” I suppose with The National, you’ll at least always know what you’re going to get.
Note: Calling something boilerplate means it’s cliché. Somehow, this reviewer means it as a compliment.