Last year, the National released their seventh album, the stunning and haunting Sleep Well Beast. A sonically adventurous album that grappled with marital strife and the bleak atmosphere of contemporary America in equal measure, it ranked as one of our favorite albums of 2017. And while they’ve been road-testing new material while touring behind Sleep Well Beast, chances are it’ll be a while before we get a full-fledged follow-up. So here’s something extra to be thankful for today: sort of a new National song, via their latest contribution to the Bob’s Buskers series from Bob’s Burgers.
Now in its 9th season, Bob’s Burgers has often incorporated music; there was a compilation of its many ditties and snippets released by Sub Pop last year. And along the way, they’ve had quite a few associations with major indie artists. In years past, Stephen Merritt and St. Vincent have contributed covers, while the video for Sleater-Kinney’s “A New Wave” was rendered within the world of Bob’s Burgers. Going as far back as 2012, the National have been the show’s most consistent musical accomplices from the outside world. Over the years, they’ve covered several Thanksgiving songs, a Christmas tune, and another called “Bad Stuff Happens In The Bathroom.”
At one point, the pairing of the morose sounds of the National and a comedic cartoon like Bob’s Burgers seemed like a willfully perverse marriage. But even if you don’t account for the National’s less-acknowledged tongue-in-cheek side, it does make a good amount of sense. Their middle-aged ennui and self-deprecation isn’t so foreign to the show, even when they take Bob’s Burgers tracks and fully bring them into their own world.
So, they’ve kept the partnership going this year with “Save The Bird.” “We’re honored to continue our Thanksgiving tradition with Bob’s Burgers with ‘Save The Bird,’ which was recorded at Public Hi-Fi in Austin and in my secluded dojo in Los Angeles,” Matt Berninger said of the National’s latest collab with the show. “It’s especially thrilling to have our brass section finally get credit for something. Also, I’d like to thank Tom for doing the dishes.”
As usual, the National imbue “Save The Bird” with all the beauty and gravity that naturally runs through their veins. And as usual, it never gets old to see these guys depicted in Bob’s Burger’s animation style. Their cartoon avatars stare wide-eyed into the camera on a drive to nowhere — or, you know, to someone’s family’s for Thanksgiving dinner — before they release a turkey into open fields. It’s a nice Thanksgiving surprise, and you can check it out below.