Brow Beat

The National’s Matt Berninger Lightens Up With Menomena’s Brent Knopf: Hear Their Debut Single

Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf’s new band, EL VY.
Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf’s new band, EL VY.


There’s long been a disconnect between the gloominess of the National’s music and the goofiness with which the band presents itself in their music videos and Funny or Die sketches and songs for Bob’s Burgers about killing turkeys. Now it seems that lead singer Matt Berninger may have found an outlet for his lighter side. The National’s label, 4AD, announced today that Berninger is teaming up with Brent Knopf, one of the three multi-instrumentalists who founded Menomena and the man behind the underrated solo project Ramona Falls, for a new project called EL VY. EL VY’s debut album, Return to the Moon, is due out Oct. 30, just in time for their fall tour, and they’ve shared the title track.

Though the parenthetical in the title of “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, With Crescendo)” might wink at the National’s reputation for Crescendo Rock, the song’s sound is much lighter on its feet than anything from that group, complete with a disco beat and abundant handclaps. The lyrics, too, strike an absurdist tone right from the start: “Scratched a ticket with a leg/ Of a cricket/ And I got triple Jesus,” Berninger sings in his signature baritone in the song’s first lines, before rising into a higher register. Meanwhile, Knopf’s supporting arrangement is typically atmospheric and wide-ranging, bringing in everything from pizzicato strings to funky guitar riffs before taking detours into sections centered around acoustic guitars and martial drums. In other words, the song brings together the best of both artists, and I can’t wait to spend more time with the rest of the album.

EL VY on tour:

02 – PORTLAND, OR, Doug Fir Lounge
03 – PORTLAND, OR, Doug Fir Lounge
04 – SEATTLE, WA, Neumos
06 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA, The Independent
07 – LOS ANGELES, CA, Troubadour
10 – PHILADELPHIA, PA, Union Transfer
11 – WASHINGTON, DC, 9:30 Club
13 – NEW YORK, NY, Bowery Ballroom
14 – BROOKLYN, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg 15 – BOSTON, MA, The Sinclair
16 – MONTREAL, QC, Theatre Fairmount
17 – TORONTO, ON, Opera House
19 – CHICAGO, IL, Metro
20 – MILWAUKEE, WI, The Turner
21 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN, First Avenue

01 – COPENHAGEN, Pumpehuse 02 – HAMBURG, Knust
03 – AMSTERDAM, Melkweg
04 – COLOGNE, Kantine
06 – BERLIN, Astra
08 – PARIS, Trabendo
10 – LONDON, Electric Ballroom 12 – MANCHESTER, Gorilla
13 – DUBLIN, Whelans