The National has released a surprise second album of 2023, Laugh Track, which the band announced Friday night while performing at its Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati.
The 12-song Laugh Track is a companion to and features material originally started in the same sessions as First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which was released by 4AD in April.
Laugh Track is described as the band’s “most freewheeling, all-hands-on-deck album in years.”
Revelling in the license to radically upend its creative process, The National honed most of this material in live performances on tour this year, and captured those invigorated versions in impromptu sessions at producer Tucker Martine’s Portland studio.
The collection of songs are said to be “bristling with spontaneity and vintage rock energy that makes a perfect complement to the songs found on its more introspective predecessor.”
Laugh Track features guest appearances by Phoebe Bridgers and Rosanne Cash, as well as the Bon Iver collaboration “Weird Goodbyes,” which was released as a standalone track in August 2022.
There was another side of the story in the songs left uncompleted, which ranged far beyond the gentleness of Frankenstein. Over the years, guitarist Aaron Dressner admits The National has often bailed on grand ideas of making a rock record.
“It’s not because we don’t enjoy sitting in a room banging around ideas. It’s just that it wasn’t that productive, so we developed a fairly elaborate way of building songs in which drummer Bryan Devendorf had a very important but compartmentalized role,” he said.
“This time we had the desire to make something that was more alive so that Bryan’s playing would drive more.”
Thematically, there’s no intentional split between Frankenstein and Laugh Track. But if the former found frontman Matt Berninger in search of sanctuary, here there is a newly clear-eyed assessment of what matters.
Buy/Stream Laugh Track HERE.
The National on tour:
September 21 – Dublin, IRE – 3 Arena *
September 23 – Leeds, UK – First Direct Arena *
September 24 – Glasgow, UK – OVO Hydro Arena *
September 26 – London, UK – Alexandra Palace * SOLD OUT
September 27 – London, UK – Alexandra Palace * SOLD OUT
September 29 – Amsterdam, NL – Ziggo Dome ^ SOLD OUT
September 30 – Berlin, DE – Max-Schmeling-Halle ^ SOLD OUT
October 1 – Munich, DE – Zenith ^
October 4 – Madrid, ES – WiZink Center ^
October 5 – Porto, PT – Super Bock Arena ^ SOLD OUT
October 6 – Lisbon, PT – Campo Pequeno ^ SOLD OUT
October 7 – Lisbon, PT – Campo Pequeno ^
November 10 – San Francisco, CA – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium %
November 11 – San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre %
November 13 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Financial Theatre %
November 14 – Albuquerque, NM – Kiva Auditorium %
November 16 – Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Theater %
November 17 – Austin, TX – Moody Center %
November 18 – Houston, TX – Lawn at White Oak %
November 19 – Irving, TX – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory %
February 28, 2024 – Brisbane, Australia – Riverstage ~
March 1, 2024 – Sydney, Australia – Aware Super Theatre ~
March 5, 2024 – Melbourne, Australia – Sidney Myer Music Bowl ~
March 9, 2024 – Perth, Australia – Kings Park ~
^ Bartees Strange
% Hand Habits
~ Very Special Guests Fleet Foxes