It becomes clear from the first few minutes of Sleep Well Beast that this is not just another record by old-timers The National. Of course, there is no replacing Matt Berninger’s signature croon or Aaron Dessner’s hypnotic songwriting. But this album captures a side of The National that we only see glimpses of during live sets—one that is wide awake, sweating through the setlist with a passion that can only come from experience. It is no surprise that they were inspired by love (and the tests it must endure with age) yet again in their music. However, this record was truly their wake-up call to a changing world: a world in which they are expected to be older and wiser instead of young and carefree. Their first album in 4 years, Sleep Well Beast is The National’s “Goodbye to All That” and hello to a new, repurposed energy.