Song of the Week (5/12/17): The National – “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”


It’s been a few years since we’ve heard new music from The National. After 2013’s excellent Trouble Will Find Me, the five-piece lived life and worked on side projects. As news trickled out about their seventh album, the band aimed for an evolution in their sound. If this song is anything to go on, they’ve succeeded.

“The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” opens with touches of beautiful, slightly alien female vocals. Electronic tinges permeate the entire track, from the gorgeous iced piano to the quick, distorted guitar jabs. The rhythm section, an essential element, locks it all together with an undeniable groove. Plus, we get the group’s first legit guitar solo! After 16 years, it’s worth the wait!

“The system only dreams in total darkness/Why are you hiding from me?/We’re in a different kind of thing now/All night you’re talking to God,” Matt Berninger sings, laying out the uncertainty of these times without hitting us over the head with it.

From this first taste, The National moved their sound forward while continuing their first-rate songwriting. I can’t wait to hear more when the album, Sleep Well Beast, drops on Sept. 8 through 4AD Records.