It’s Slightly-Middle-Aged-North-American-Indie Thursday!!!…
Matt Cibula: Never heard the National before. Loved the title, loved the opening. Then the singer started singing the lyrics.
Chuck Eddy: Ridiculous stentorian-serious monotone vocals of no particular distinction above moody non-rocking atmosphere of ditto. Docked a point for having notably less to say about the Buckeye State than Electric Six did in “Escape From Ohio” last year.
Alfred Soto: This undeniably skillful outfit lets rolling toms and Matt Berninger’s Jove-in-the-clouds mumble get away with too much portent, and Berninger’s line about flying to Ohio on a swarm of bees tossed this helplessly into the realm of camp. But the urgency and sincere tug of the music won me over. Lucky for them that the economy is still in the tank; they can get away with garbled sentiments about money they’ll never earn.
Edward Okulicz: I find the smokey, dissolute stylings of The National to be so compelling, even their slighter nuggets contain moments — a drum fill here, a snatch of piano there — that hit me in the heart. And good thing too, because at least a quarter of this is nonsensical and a further quarter is meaningless. The rest is portentious, but in a good way.
Martin Skidmore: If you imagine a lightweight Joy Division with a deep, relaxed male vocal, you’ll be thereabouts. I can’t make any sense of the lyrics at all, which is a shame when they are so clear and foregrounded. Pleasant but dull.
Michaelangelo Matos: This song kind of turns a corner for my understanding of this band: the guitars are unmistakably majestic even if they’re careful about it, like WPA posters, and just as old-fashioned. So no, I don’t mind hearing their brooding at all; I just have a hard time caring.
Anthony Easton: Money and Blood, my favorite state in the Midwest, and buzzing guitars that move somewhere between attack dogs and paranoia… but not as violent as it could be.
Alex Macpherson: A ponderous, grey rumble, thunder sans lightning that fails to lead to a storm.
Ian Mathers: I’m going to quote a friend of mine here: “This is one of those bands that I spend zero time trying to talk people into and manifold hours discussing with other fans.” That being said, as much as “I still owe money to the money” etc. seems to be the bit firing discussion, I actually tend to focus a lot more on the next line: “I’ve never thought about love when I’ve thought about home.” This song, and the National as whole, aren’t depressive enough for that to be strictly woe-is-me, and the soft wonder in Matt Berninger voice as he sings it would undercut that reading anyway. As far as I can tell through the band’s always-gnomic melancholy, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is as much about how your home changes when you’re away from it as anything else.
Jonathan Bradley: Nothing about “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is surprising, but nothing about it is disappointing either. This is a band that has got so proficient at executing their sound that playing to type seems like a triumph, not a crutch. This is classic National: a dusky Berninger baritone, a rhythm section hurtling pell-mell into disaster, a quiet storm of downtown dramaturgy. I could tell you that “Bloozbuzz” is sorrowful and impassioned and manages to come across as simultaneously beaten and triumphant, but I could communicate the same by telling you who made it. Also it has this nice bit where everything goes quiet and Berninger sings about being carried to Ohio by bees. Which you don’t get in every National song, I must admit.
Jonathan Bogart: These days whenever I listen to indie rock I feel like I’m tuning into Season Five of a critically-acclaimed drama I’ve never watched before: so many of the gestures and tropes, which mean so much to the people who have been following along religiously from the beginning, are opaque, even contentless, to me. Which is to say, I’m sure that Matt Berninger (I had to look that up) means Something Important by his affectless croon, but to me it just codes as stubborn laziness. Finally, an indie rock singer with an actual voice — but he won’t use it! The song itself rumbles along not unpleasantly.