Nabbing a New Order t-shirt is far harder than The National let on. When a band only does four dates on a tour of the United Kingdom, it is hard to see how supplies of quality attire will stand. Whether The National manage to heave themselves back on stage for more than a few showcases is yet to be seen, but New Order T-Shirt is one to leave off the setlist. Opening with intonations of U2 and an attempt at capturing the acoustic shimmers, the slow percussion build, of their earlier works, The National draw the line between power and parody. Horribly tepid strokes are right at the core of this track, a piece that never finds itself moving anywhere.
It is boygenius for the boomer rock dads. New Order T-Shirt certainly serves that purpose well. Brevity and calmness stroke through, and the inevitable, forced emotion of twee charms and lighter form for The National give them the opportunity to work toward an acoustic sound. It feels hollow. Flubbed and imaginative placements for Matt Berninger see him talk to sharks in the corners of an aquarium, name drop café that presumably have some relative meaning to him and tap away on those everyday items that come through as so common to so many. But that is the issue and the real, overarching problem New Order T-Shirt is never capable of shaking. It hopes to strive for the every day, but it feels as though The National have not touched or seen the world around them in some time.
That disconnect is brutal. An unflinching attempt to compartmentalise the average individual as a New Order t-shirt-wearing, smoking aquarium wanderer. Everyone is the same in the post-punk revival scene. Attempting to understand what post-punk is anymore is a difficult one. Filtered U2, apparently, with inflictions of a stronger boygenius EP release. Phoebe Bridgers manages this sort of relatable momentum and if anything, The National strengthen the works of those who aim for the heart by providing a malaise rendition of break-up genre strokes. It is harder than it looks, then. Not heartless, though. New Order T-Shirt is not heartless. The National have provided what they believe to be the perfect break-up song. A recount of memories and places, the faces that are associated with them. It feel as empty as the hollow, loveless post-snapshot reflection.
White wheel, code black, thirty quid each. Take your choice. The National may see you somewhere down the line and write a song about you and your interactions. You could be walking the dog, popping to the shops for some bread or bearing witness to an altercation between a mime artist and a firefighter, but The National will make it sound mundane. Laying on the sincere sound without the sincerity behind it proves quite underwhelming despite its positive desire. A sense of recovery, a move toward self-betterment and flickering through despite the problems they face. Who are they, though? You. The National have brushed with broad strokes and personable details of their own places in the hopes that New Order T-Shirt will provide a fill-in-the-blanks structure. A shame that the hook for the track is as weak as the implementation of those blue Mondays.