After the run from "Boxer" through the transcendent heights of "High Violet" to the continued excellence of "Trouble Will Find Me" and "Sleep Well Beast" it has become normal to expect nothing but the best from the indie rock standard bearers.
Unfortunately, whilst there is much to enjoy here, it is a definite step down from those mentioned above. Perhaps, understandably, wanting to continue to stretch themselves this album suffers from the art project surrounding it. Not a strict soundtrack, but definitely less than a normal album, (whatever that is of course!), too many tracks meander into quickly forgotten homogeneity. Whilst these songs work better in shorter snippets accompanying the film, the album is released as that, an album and needs to be judged in that context.
On the positive side though, the lead track, "You Had Your Soul With You", "Quiet Night", the title track and the almost nursery rhyme-esque "Not In Kansas" stand out as reminders that they still have it. Perhaps it is a case of too much ambition, or too much art? Mind you I'd much rather they aimed for the stars and missed than settled into a comfortable groove.
"Not In Kansas" features a nice reference back to R.E.M. a band The National have much in common with due to their consistent output, indie/mainstream crossover and being purveyors intelligent rock music for grown ups.