"I guess I've always been a delicate man," sings The National's Matt Berninger on 'Lemonworld', and no matter how steely or shaky you are you'll feel that bit more fragile after listening to this record.

Those desperate hours when the gears of the mind grind against each other, owning up to true nature and the desire to escape the city all feature on 'High Violet', the band's most anthemic album to date and a must for anyone who stockpiles sad songs.

As rhythm section brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf put down one irresistible groove after another, and guitarist twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner egg each other on with the hooks and riffs, Berninger wanders around in the fog of adult life, sometimes reaching conclusions and sometimes realising he's going to have to wander some more.

Fans who felt that 2007's 'Boxer' was their soulmate could find their fidelity truly tested here, while many newcomers will be wondering how they got by without these five fascinating, average blokes for so long. When it comes to music these days, Berninger's lyric "Lonely kicks are getting harder to find" is often very true, but they're in abundance here.

Harry Guerin