YMMV / The National

  • Broken Base: The studio version of Graceless has divided the fan base between those who view it as a boring rendition of an excellent live tune, and those who view it as being just as effective on the album.
    • More infamously, the studio version of Terrible Love, which had distorted drums. Fans complained to the point where the band released an alternate version at the end of the year.
    • In regards to their discography, there exists a divide between fans regarding whether or not the band's decision to change to a slower, quiet, and denser sound, was a good thing or not.
    • Turtleneck; a welcome change of pace, or an embarrassing, cringe-worthy attempt at a 'hard rock song'? Who knows?
  • Covered Up: Birdy's cover of Terrible Love gained significantly more traction than the original or alternate versions.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Basically everything. All of their albums have been critically acclaimed except for their first two, but even the second one was pretty close to universal acclaim on Metacritic.
    • "The Rains of Castamere" certainly count for Game of Thrones fans.
    • The instrumental arrangements are always incredible, especially on the later albums.
    • Their covers of two songs from Bob's Burgers have the band singing light-hearted lyrics about gravy boats and turkeys with the signature beauty of their normal output. It's as good as it sounds.
  • Dull Surprise: A criticism of their recorded material being Matt's dulled-down vocals compared to when he performs live. "Graceless" on Trouble Will Find Me is a particularly bad example; Matt lets loose and screams most of the lyrics live but rather boringly mutters them on the album itself.
    • Averted with "Turtleneck" on Sleep Well Beast.
  • Epic Riff: Basically every instrument in "Fake Empire." From the piano to the horns.
    • The drummer even gets one in "Squalor Victoria" and "Brainy."
    • Also, the beginning of "Mistaken For Strangers".
    • "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" is probably their best traditional guitar riff.
  • Face of the Band - Subverted. Every one of the band members get just as much publicity as the rest.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: Contender with Arcade Fire for the most triumphant example of the last decade.
  • Mostly Narmless: Matt's voice makes even the most ridiculous lyrics seem deep and serious, as seen here.
  • Signature Song: Either "Fake Empire" or "Bloodbuzz Ohio". However, fans could also make a strong for "Mr November" as being their defining song as well.
    • Portal 2 gives another song to the general masses, "Exile (Vilify)".
    • "I Need My Girl" and "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness", which have become the two most popular songs in the band's catalog since their release, with the latter track being their first chart-topping single.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of the mysterious song teased on Instagram.
    • Subverted, as the band talked about releasing songs that didn't make the album as a separate project.
    • The question as to whether or not the unreleased fan favorite "Rylan" will ever be on an album is still sort of up in the air; though it's been previously hinted by the band that it may not ever see a commercial release, it's frequent inclusion in setlists for the Sleep Well Beast tour might suggest otherwise.
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