The National, ‘Guilty Party’ | Track Review
The National Returns with the second single from their seventh album, ‘Sleep Well Beast,’ “Guilty Party.” It’s all about them sad vibes on “Guilty Party.”
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 two singles. The first single was the mysterious, captivating “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” which graced our list of the 30 Best Songs of 2017 (So Far). The second single is sadder: “Guilty Party.”
“Guilty Party” commences in subtle, restrained fashion. A groove is established early on, but there’s still a poise about the record nonetheless. Matt Berninger approaches the vocal with the same subtlety as the production. In other words, he doesn’t push the baritone too much. Regardless, the vocal performance is very tender and beautiful, as is the production itself. There are some added details here and there that provide a nice touch.
So, what’s “Guilty Party” about? Simply, a failing relationship. Berninger ultimately asserts there’s no specific blame on the chorus.
“It’s nobody’s fault / No guilty party / I (We) just got nothing left to say.”
Given the theme of this record, the subtle, quiet vibe makes sense contextually. That said, the main rub with “Guilty Party” is that it’s too stoic. Ultimately, the record just doesn’t feel like it ever reaches a notable climax. While the sections of the song are perceptible, more distinction and separation would’ve made the record stronger. Even if its cliché, there’s the desire for Berninger to pound his chest and deliver more raw emotion. It just never happens.
All in all, “Guilty Party” is another respectable single from The National. It’s more accessible than “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” but arguably less captivating. Still, The National capture sadness soundly without a doubt. Still, as aforementioned, it would’ve been nice to have that more gut-wrenching moment go down.