Now Hear This (Best of 2013): The National Lighten Up (Sort Of)

The National's album Trouble Will Find Me, released back in May, had the kind of title that made you figure the band would be exploring the same depths of beautiful sadness and solitude we'd gotten used to. This time around, though, it felt like -- maybe, improbably -- life and possibly success had lit a fire in their bellies.
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The National's album Trouble Will Find Me, released back in May, had the kind of title that made you figure the band would be exploring the same depths of beautiful sadness and solitude we'd gotten used to. This time around, though, it felt like -- maybe, improbably -- life and possibly success had lit a fire in their bellies.
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Our official countdown of the 25 Best Singles of 2013 begins tomorrow, but there's one last musical honorable mention before we kick things off.

The National have always written epic, end-of-the-world-style hymns. It's what's made them not just a great band but really one of the most vital working today. But what they've never done is lightened up and let a glimmer of hope shine through all that darkness -- until now. Their album Trouble Will Find Me, released back in May, had the kind of title that made you figure they'd be exploring the same depths of beautiful sadness and solitude we'd gotten used to. This time around, though, it felt like -- maybe, improbably -- life and possibly success had lit a fire in their bellies. Matt Berninger's regal baritone wasn't simply conveying tragic resignation and the band's entire sound had a sleeker, more accessible quality to it, nowhere more than on this propulsive track.

Here's Graceless.