The National have released their much-discussed new album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which includes a major collaboration with Taylor Swift

The track in question, “The Alcott”, features Matt Berninger and the pop superstar duetting delicately, but it was Berninger’s bandmate Aaron Dessner who first connected the pair.

“Matt wrote the main part of the song to some music I had written which Taylor had heard and I knew liked, so I thought it might be something she would really click with,” Dessner explains. “I sent it to her, and was a little nervous as I didn’t hear back for 20 minutes or so. By the time she responded, Taylor had written all her parts and recorded a voice memo with the lyrics she’d added in a dialogue with Matt, and everyone fell immediately in love with it.”

On “The Alcott”, Berninger and Swift occupy the roles of a couple desperately attempting to resurrect a troubled relationship. “It’s about two people with a long history returning to a place and trying to relive a certain moment in time,” as Berninger puts it. “It’s got the feeling of a last-ditch effort to hold onto the relationship, but there’s a hint of something positive where you can see the beginnings of a reconnection.”

Swift isn’t the only big name to feature on The National’s new album, with Sufjan Stevens and Phoebe Bridgers also lending their talent to several tracks. Stream the full album below.

First Two Pages of Frankenstein is the follow-up to 2019’s I Am Easy to Find, which was a top 10 hit in the US and Australia. As Berninger reveals, though, the band’s ninth album almost didn’t see the light of day. “I was in a very dark spot where I couldn’t come up with lyrics or melodies at all, and that period lasted for over a year,” he recalls.

The National’s First Two Pages of Frankenstein is out now via 4AD/Remote Control Records. 

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