With eight albums and two EPs under their belt over a 20-plus year career, The National have rarely missed. Ever since the band hit their stride with 2005’s Alligator, they have been one of the most consistent purveyors of indie rock the genre has to offer.
That said, even their most ardent fans won’t argue that every release has been flawless — but every time Matt Berninger, the Dessners, and the Devendorfs put out something new, you’re almost guaranteed a handful of tracks will become new favorites. With their ninth full-length, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, announced for an April 28th release via 4AD, now’s the perfect time to look back at all those past albums and put together a list of their top tracks.
Of course, the same factors that have earned The National such lasting greatness make choosing their 10 best songs a formidable task. If every album has at least a few top-tier tunes, how do you narrow it down to just the toppest-tier? You could theoretically make a list that only included tracks off Boxer and High Violet and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone arguing against you. Go look at the various Reddit fan rankings and see if you find a single user that shares the exact opinion of another. (Okay, so that just describes Reddit, but the point still stands.)
So in an effort to be fully representative of all this beloved band has to offer, we were forced to make some tough cuts. The result is a list of 10 songs you might not fully agree with, but you won’t be able to deny includes some of the best music The National have released. (Scroll to the end for a playlist of every track.) We’ll see if that all needs to shift once Frankenstein drops; a good bet says it just might.
— Ben Kaye