The National, ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’ | Track Review
The National drops another gem with ‘Carin at the Liquor Store,’ the third single from album, ‘Sleep Well Beast.’
After a four-year hiatus, The National returns with Sleep Well Beast. Sleep Well Beast arrives September 8, 2017. As of yet, ahead of their seventh studio album, The National have released three singles. The first was the mysterious, captivating “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” which earned honors as one of our 30 Best Songs of 2017 (So Far) and reappeared in the revised, expanded edition a month later. The second was “Guilty Party,” another respectable offering, if less captivating than “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” Third single, “Carin at the Liquor Store,” proves itself to be another winner.
“Carin at the Liquor Store” opens with acoustic piano – you can tell by the percussiveness of the sound, thanks to the prominence of the hammers. This sound creates quite the ambiance. There are some subtle sounds in the background in addition to the piano, but this serves as the dominant backdrop. Matt Berninger adds his rich, distinct baritone atop the simple backdrop, which eventually expands with more instrumentation. “Carin at the Liquor Store” never grows incredibly overt – it always maintains a sense of poise and the utmost control. Even so, Berninger infuses more energy as it progresses, particular towards the end when he ascends from the bottom end of his vocal register.
The form of “Carin at the Liquor Store” is a mix of traditional, with some variation. The verses are patterned after one another, keeping things traditional. However, each of the three choruses are slightly different, with some common ground. The first chorus is the shortest.
“So blame it on me / I really don’t care / It’s a foregone conclusion.”
Those lines recur on both the second and third choruses, which follow the second verse. The second chorus is the lengthiest, bearing the most detail.
“So blame it on me / I really don’t care / It’s a foregone conclusion / It wasn’t so bad, I wasn’t that sick / Got taken by love, I wasn’t that quick / Forgone conclusion / It’s gonna be different after tonight / You’re gonna see me in a different light / It’s a foregone conclusion.”
So, what is Matt and The National getting at here? Love, specifically for Carin Besser, the wife of Matt Berninger.
Ultimately, “Carin at the Liquor Store” gives The National another compelling song. It doesn’t trump the weird times of “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” the best single from Sleep Well Beast, but it’s level-pegging with “Guilty Party,” if not a smidge stronger. Hey, you can’t knock a song that guy rights about his wife!