The National High Violet (4AD) The fifth album, High Violet, by American indie darlings The National delivers more of the sombre melodies that made up the bulk of their previous Boxer. Channelling a host of influences - Ian Curtis, Nick Cave and the Bunnymen's Ian McCullough in the vocals and Sonic Youth in the sounds - it's a lugubrious m?lange that's sometimes moving and occasionally cathartic. Fans of The National's early alt-country sound will be disillusioned by these slow, densely packed recordings, but it will appeal to those searching for more interesting soundscapes than standard guitar-based indie rock. Few individual songs stand out on High Violet. It's very much a singular-mood piece. Matt Berninger's delivery is unnervingly similar throughout the 11 tracks. The band have evidently spent more time building songs in the studio than writing them. Hook lines are few and far between,and the tracks tend to merge into one long atmospheric piece. It's quite a rewarding experience all told, although it's the voice rather than the music that gives the band character. The album was reportedly recorded in Aaron Dessner's garage, and this could be why the production is a bit muddy on both high-quality hi-fi and MP3.