Albums to watch

Serpentine Prison

Matt Berninger

Serpentine Prison

Debut solo album from The National's frontman was produced by Booker T. Jones

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  1. 10.0 |   Record Collector

    It’s a stunning record – from the album artwork down to the perfectly-weighted running order, nothing is out of place and nothing jars. Matt Berninger didn’t want to write a solo record. But thank god he did
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  2. 10.0 |   The Irish Times

    Berninger’s weary baritone is a great instrument that drifts and crashes around songs about desires and thwarted dreams
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  3. 8.7 |   Paste Magazine

    The National frontman uses his characteristic brooding to his advantage on Serpentine Prison
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  4. 8.5 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    Matt Berninger indulges his brooding creativity on a refined debut solo outing
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  5. 8.0 |   Loud And Quiet

    It’s some of his most carefree and heartfelt work for years – that’s pretty much all we could ask for
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  6. 8.0 |   musicOMH

    For a first solo work, Serpentine Prison is an excellent sidestep from Berninger’s vitally important and highly respected day job
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  7. 8.0 |   DIY

    As with The National, Matt’s brilliantly obtuse way with words swirls into frame frequently
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  8. 8.0 |   NME

    The singer takes in rich influences for a deep, intimate listen to be filed next to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' ‘Boatman’s Call’ and Leonard Cohen’s ‘You Want It Darker’
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  9. 8.0 |   Northern Transmissions

    Stark, weirdly comforting, bruised and beautiful, ‘Serpentine Prison’ is like being given access to Berninger’s private diary where you’re allowed to view his most intimate thoughts and secrets
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  10. 8.0 |   American Songwriter

    If Berninger intended to establish an imprint beyond his day job, he certainly succeeded here. Once Serpentine Prison opens its doors, visitors will likely find it hard to leave
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  11. 8.0 |   Uncut

    Though less avidly adventurous than his band's recent outings (or his own past activities with EL VY), the music here may be stronger for it. Print edition only

  12. 8.0 |   Mojo

    If all of this sounds heavy gong, the soul and country moves and comparative lightness of the music throughout help to illuminate the darkness. Print edition only

  13. 8.0 |   The FT

    The National frontman’s solo album, produced by Booker T Jones, would make a fine soundtrack for lockdown
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  14. 8.0 |   The Independent

    There’s a looseness in the musician’s downbeat tempos and half-spoken vocals
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  15. 7.5 |   Consequence Of Sound

    Serpentine Prison isn’t the drastic change of pace that many frontmen create when they do a project outside of their main band, but it does enough to justify itself as separate from The National’s catalog
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  16. 7.3 |   Beats Per Minute

    It’s tempting as ever with Berninger’s work to let it do its slow burn thing, and while repeated listens are far from unrewarding or unpleasant, the depth doesn’t feel quite as vast as with what we have come to expect
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  17. 7.0 |   All Music

    Taken together, it's a sequestered, rainy Sunday type of album with flawed, world-weary vocal performances that are laid bare by such impressionistic accompaniment
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  18. 7.0 |   Spectrum Culture

    A tasteful, stately affair that, at its best, resonates with the same emotional directness and honesty that we’ve come to expect from Berninger
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  19. 7.0 |   The Music

    Once you're used to his voice in a different world, things are quite enjoyable
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  20. 7.0 |   Exclaim

    For a solo debut, Serpentine Prison seems like a natural first step and a safe bet for both the artist's individual ambitions and the comfort of existing fans
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  21. 7.0 |   Under The Radar

    It’s a worthy exercise in bridging seemingly disparate musical worlds, long demarcated by the color line. And as is common with any kind of growth—missteps and discomfort are just par of the course
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  22. 6.7 |   Pitchfork

    The National frontman’s solo debut unwinds the nervous energy in favor of something more laid-back. The music is gorgeous and unfussy, but his performances and lyrics feel nondescript
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  23. 6.0 |   No Ripcord

    There’s a good amount of work to enjoy here, but it’ll mainly make you want to listen to The National instead
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  24. 6.0 |   Albumism

    This supremely talented ensemble gathering for a fortnight, in this serene setting, could only lead to one outcome: nuanced, sophisticated work. Indeed, Serpentine Prison sounds pleasant enough, but the truth is it doesn’t move me
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  25. 6.0 |   PopMatters

    Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory
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  26. 6.0 |   Rolling Stone

    The National frontman’s gorgeous solo debut leans into his band’s core sound while emphasizing what makes him unique
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  27. 6.0 |   Slant Magazine

    The album is an enjoyable, if predictable, outing from an effortlessly reliable songwriter
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  28. 5.0 |   God Is In The TV

    If you are a fan of The National, there are several enjoyable and recognisable features you will hear across this LP. It will especially reward patient listeners who want to wallow in the vibe of the music
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