New Music Reviews

The National ft. Phoebe Bridgers’ Your Mind is not Your Friend: Fighting Against Yourself

The National is slowly releasing a number of singles ahead of their upcoming record First Two Pages of Frankenstein and the latest is Your Mind is not Your Friend featuring Phoebe Bridgers. Let’s not forget that Phoebe has been very busy herself with a full length LP with Boygenius, which has been garnering great critical acclaim. Two hot indie darlings on the same track can either spell beautiful teamwork…or there is not enough ball to go around and they can each steal time for their own shots. The question is, which track are we going to get?

First off, the track starts off quite differently than your usual National fare. A beautiful and fragile piano begins as Matt’s vocal has an ethereal quality as it drifts in and out of this sonic dream scape. It takes a few verses before the classic National percussion drives in to give the track heart. Having said that, the light synth, strings, piano and subtle hint of french horn gives the track an almost Hans Zimmer quality. One interesting point is that during the bridge and chorus there is a static buzz in the background, which feels like a vulgar interloper, invading this pristine dream. This has enormous thematic importance in that the entire song is about how your mind works against itself. In this sense, the static is always there…ready to destroy your attempts at inner peace.

The National recently broke new vocal ground with the duets record I’m Easy to Find, not to mention Matt’s amazing duet coney island with Taylor Swift. He has taken what he has learned about duets and applied it to this track. His vocal harmonises well with Phoebe Bridgers and their combination gives the track needed warmth and depth. With themes about trauma, depression and how your mind can destroy your psychological self, some warmth is needed. Their vocals balance out such dark and hopeless thematic material. The hopelessness of the track is how the mind leads you into a dark nothingness with very little support. The track itself offers no hope or salvation, but serves as a warning to always be on alert for when your thoughts will betray you. Real sunshine and lollipops stuff.

Having said all of that, Your Mind is not Your Friend is a beautiful and fragile song that is truly touching. Matt is no stranger to cutting himself open and bleeding all over his song sheet, which is evident here. Themes of depression, trauma and not being able to trust yourself with your own thoughts can be distressing to say the least. However, I can hear Matt and Phoebe sing anything and I will fall in love with it. I do wish she had more room in this track, but her vocal adds so much emotional weight. Despite its nihilistic message, I am in love with this track and it will probably be high on my end of year list.

Listen to Your Mind is not Your Friend

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