Today, melancholy indie fans (me included) everywhere rejoice as The National announced a new album, a new music video and a north American and European tour; hopefully to be expanded to an international tour in the months after the album release. The first single ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’ is welcomed alongside a music video which shows a departure from the aesthetics of their previous clips but ties in beautiful to the graphics surrounding the album.

Drawing on the band’s back catalogue, this week’s music video column is a pick of The National’s finest work.

The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness

Director: Casey Reas

Album: Sleep Well Beast (2017) still to be released

This duo-chromatic clip is a distinct departure from their previous videos employing the regular use of pixelated effects and grid overlays in this video. With the disconcerting feel of infrared footage, there is a pervasive eery feeling to the video. The smooth drone camera movement is becoming increasingly familiar with the prevalence of this technology, is expertly used here.  The curious change to inverted cloudscapes at the end of the clip, although pairing nicely with the climax of the song, is a disorientating and enigmatic departure.

Sea Of Love

Director: Sophia Peer

Album: Trouble Will Find Me (2013)

This curiously quaint video for ‘Sea Of Love’ is the epitome of a simple idea well executed. It has an element of quiet humour which threads through a lot of their videos. Cramming the band into weird blank space, the impassioned performance of the song seems strange and almost a bit ridiculous. This is only added to by the boy at the front, who must be one of the youngest masters of deadpan I have ever experienced, who just air guitars stoically through the whole thing. Absolute gold.

Bloodbuzz Ohio

Director: Hope Hall, Andreas Burgess and Carin Besser

Album: High Violet (2010)

Focussing on frontman Matt Berninger, the music video for ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ is the exactly the representation for darkly funny dejectedness that is expected to accompany The National‘s music. The video shows Berninger listlessly wandering the streets of New York spliced with a halfhearted on stage performance of the song with a cocktail in hand. If you crossed a slightly younger Bill Murray from Lost In Translation with French New Wave cinema, then this would be the result, and my oh my, isn’t it glorious?

 I Need My Girl

Director: Sophia Peer

Album: Trouble Will Find Me (2013)

Another amazing clip from this album by Sophia Peer, which is sad and beautiful at the same time. Dancers spin slowly which subtle movements exaggerated by the layered of delayed images. As with many of their videos, the black and white treatment evokes a melancholic past of loss and longing. Mesmerising and haunting, the video reflects the song in a serious but perfect way.


Director: Sophia Peer

Album: Trouble Will Find Me (2013)

The music video for ‘Graceless’ is the pick of the bunch. The unique juxtaposition of serious techniques and joyful silliness demonstrates how the feel of a song can dramatically change with the music video. Deceptively beginning with a shot of a serious procession into a house, the sharply suited members of The National are soon depicted engaging in series of stupidly playful activities. The first half is a perfect balance of raucous shots of above water frivolity and slow underwater repose. Focussing on the idea of being graceless, this beautifully shot video has an infectious sense of coolly dressed fun which will make any viewer what to be involved.