The National’s new album First Two Pages Of Frankenstein is out now. That means so is “The Alcott,” their new song featuring Taylor Swift. We already have extensive evidence of what Swift sounds like over Aaron Dessner production, and we’ve even heard her duet with Matt Berninger on the evermore track “Coney Island.” Now we get to see what happens when she’s decidedly on the National’s turf rather than welcoming them into her world.
The result is a trembling slow jam that sounds not unlike a Taylor Swift song but is also very much a National song. In my review of the album, I described it like so:
“The Alcott” begins as yet another piano ballad about a romance on the brink: “And the last thing you wanted/ Is the first thing I do,” Berninger and Swift sing together. “I tell you my problems/ You tell me the truth.” As the song creeps slowly toward its climax, it comes alive. Swift darts into the space between Berninger’s lines, crafting the other half of a dialogue, echoing every phrase with unmistakably Swiftian sentiments like “Could it be easy this once?” and “I love this curse on our house.” Some will find it corny — especially the conclusion, “I think I’m falling back in love with you” — but for me it’s evidence that the National can still successfully shake up their approach sometimes.
Stream “The Alcott” below along with the full album, which also features Sufjan Stevens and Phoebe Bridgers in supporting roles.
First Two Pages Of Frankenstein is out now on 4AD.