The National originally came from Cincinnatti, Ohio, but has long since moved to New York. Over the years, Matt Berninger and band have developed their very own style of darkness with Berninger’s baritone voice being highly recognizable as much as Bryan Devendorf’s way of playing drums.
Sleep Well Beast has a superdark cover, designed by Luke Hayman from Pentagram. Hayman has designed everything surrounding the album and its promotion in blue and white colors. The cover picture shows a barn in Hudson, New York, where the album was recorded.
“Some will fault the National for not evolving their sound more radically, or speaking more explicitly to the political moment. But Sleep Well Beast is what it is: an emotional battlefield, beautifully drawn, familiar and true. Berninger voices a panicked, depressive insomniac who might be any of us, trying to hold it together while everything falls apart.” (Rolling Stone)
I don’t need you, I don’t need you
Besides I barely ever see you anymore
And when I do it feels like you’re only halfway there
Young mothers love me even ghosts of
Girlfriends call from Cleveland
They will meet me anytime and anywhere
(The Day I Die)
Sleep Well Beast is a break-up album and people might really think that Berninger and wife Carin Besser broke up, but in fact Berninger and Besser are still together, writing together on every album since The Boxer in 2007.
“It’s just what our marriage is based on: making art out of complicated emotions. So this record defines our marriage. It’s a little bit closer to the bone that we’ve been before, but she would never have let me get away with lyrics that weren’t risking everything,” Berninger told the Daily Telegraph.