Serpentine Prison

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Serpentine Prison
Serpentine Prison (Matt Berninger).png
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 16, 2020 (2020-10-16)
Studio
  • Earthstar Creation Center (Venice, California)
  • Knobworld (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Silent Partner (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Cecelia's (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Long Pond (Hudson Valley, NY)
Length41:33
LabelBook’s Records
ProducerBooker T. Jones
Singles from Serpentine Prison
  1. "Serpentine Prison"
    Released: May 20, 2020
  2. "Distant Axis"
    Released: July 17, 2020
  3. "One More Second"
    Released: September 10, 2020

Serpentine Prison is the debut solo studio album by Matt Berninger, lead singer and co-songwriter of The National, released on October 16, 2020.[1] It was produced by Booker T. Jones and released on Book’s Records, a new imprint of Concord Records formed by Berninger and Jones.[2]

Serpentine Prison was nominated for a Grammy for Best Packaging Design. The album was designed and art directed by Dale Doyle at Holotype, and painted by Michael Carson.

Background and recording[edit]

Berninger initially planned to release a covers album. Inspired by Willie Nelson's 1978 covers album Stardust, which was produced by Booker T. Jones, Berninger contacted Jones for assistance in making his own covers album. Berninger provided Jones with demos of covers and original songs, and eventually decided on an originals album.[3][4] Four of the covers they recorded were released on the album's deluxe edition.[5]

Serpentine Prison was recorded at Earthstar Creation Center in Venice, California. Additional recording was completed at Knobworld in Los Angeles; Silent Partner in Philadelphia; Cecelia's in Brooklyn; and Long Pond in the Hudson Valley, New York. The album is dedicated to Berninger's grandmother Elaine and to his college professor Gordon Salchow.[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Serpentine Prison was first announced by Berninger on Instagram on October 18, 2019, the day after he released his song "Walking on a String" featuring Phoebe Bridgers.[7] The album was officially announced on May 20, 2020, with a scheduled release date for October 2, 2020.[8] The album's title track was released the same day as a single.[9] "Distant Axis" was released as a single on July 17, 2020.[10] A third single, "One More Second", was released on September 10, 2020.[11] The album's release date was pushed back to October 16, 2020.[12] Berninger performed "One More Second" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 22, 2020.[13]

A deluxe edition of the album, featuring four covers and two new original songs, was released digitally on March 12, 2021. The bonus tracks were previously only available on the limited-edition double vinyl issue of the album, which was released the same day as the standard edition. The four covers include The Velvet Underground's "European Son", Bettye Swann's "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", Morphine's "In Spite of Me", and Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird".[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.5/10[15]
Metacritic77/100[16]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[17]
Consequence of SoundB[18]
Exclaim!7/10[19]
The Independent[20]
The Irish Times[21]
NME[22]
Paste8.7/10[23]
Pitchfork6.7/10[24]
Record Collector[25]
Rolling Stone[26]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Serpentine Prison received an average score of 77 based on 18 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Candace McDuffie of Paste wrote, "Serpentine Prison displays infinite promise from an artist who has already given us a catalogue that has made a lasting impact on rock music as we know it."[23]

Track listing[edit]

Serpentine Prison – Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."My Eyes Are T-Shirts"2:40
2."Distant Axis"
4:25
3."One More Second"
  • Berninger
  • Matt Sheehy
5:22
4."Loved So Little"
  • Berninger
  • Mike Brewer
4:55
5."Silver Springs" (featuring Gail Ann Dorsey)
  • Berninger
  • Sean O'Brien
  • Harrison Whitford
3:53
6."Oh Dearie"
  • Berninger
  • O'Brien
  • Whitford
3:16
7."Take Me Out of Town"
4:11
8."Collar of Your Shirt"
  • Berninger
  • Martin
5:14
9."All for Nothing"
  • Berninger
  • Brent Knopf
3:05
10."Serpentine Prison"
  • Berninger
  • O'Brien
  • Whitford
4:32
Total length:41:33
Serpentine Prison – Deluxe edition (bonus tracks)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
11."European Son"5:26
12."Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"John D. Loudermilk3:27
13."In Spite of Me"Mark Sandman2:20
14."Big Bird"3:15
15."Let It Be"
  • Berninger
  • Brewer
3:42
16."The End"Ben Lanz4:26
Total length:64:09

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[6]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Graves, Wren (October 16, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger Releases Debut Solo Album Serpentine Prison: Stream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Shaffer, Claire (May 20, 2020). "Matt Berninger Announces Debut Solo Album 'Serpentine Prison,' Drops Title Track". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Rao, Sonia (October 14, 2020). "Matt Berninger, king of melancholy music, is doing just fine". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  4. ^ Baltin, Steve (October 16, 2020). "Q&A: The National's Matt Berninger On His Debut Solo Album And How 'WAP' And Dr. Seuss Are Political Works". Forbes. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  5. ^ DiGiacomo, Frank (October 5, 2020). "Matt Berninger Talks His Solo Album & New Label, And Why His Old Bedroom Is Now Full of Semiautomatic Rifles". Billboard. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Serpentine Prison (liner notes). Matt Berninger. Concord Records / Caroline International / Book Records. 2020. CRE01345.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  7. ^ Monroe, Jazz (October 18, 2019). "The National's Matt Berninger Announces Debut Solo Album Serpentine Prison". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Ross, Alex Robert (May 20, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger announces debut solo album Serpentine Prison". The FADER. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Hussey, Allison; Monroe, Jazz (May 20, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger Shares New Song From Debut Solo Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  10. ^ Gallagher, Alex (July 17, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger shares new solo single 'Distant Axis'". NME. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Blistein, Jon (September 10, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger Pleads for 'One More Second' on New Solo Song". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Tan, Emily (September 10, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger Shares Latest Solo Song 'One More Second'". Spin. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  13. ^ Bloom, Madison; Monroe, Jazz (October 23, 2020). "Watch the National's Matt Berninger Play "One More Second" on Colbert". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  14. ^ Daly, Rhian (March 12, 2021). "Hear six new Matt Berninger songs on 'Serpentine Prison' deluxe edition". NME. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "Serpentine Prison by Matt Berninger reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Serpentine Prison by Matt Berninger Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  17. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "Serpentine Prison - Matt Berninger". AllMusic. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  18. ^ Blum, Jordan (September 30, 2020). "Matt Berninger Finds Stripped-Down Solace on Debut LP Serpentine Prison: Review". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Feibel, Adam (October 15, 2020). "The National's Matt Berninger Sets Aside His Indie Cred on Solo Debut 'Serpentine Prison'". Exclaim!. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  20. ^ Bray, Elisa (October 15, 2020). "Matt Berninger review, Serpentine Prison: Solo album is more aligned to The National's earlier folk-rock ballads". The Independent. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  21. ^ Kane, Siobhán (October 12, 2020). "Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison review – National singer's 'orphan songs' find a home". The Irish Times. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  22. ^ Trendell, Andrew (October 15, 2020). "Matt Berninger – 'Serpentine Prison' review: poise and prowess from The National frontman". NME. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  23. ^ a b McDuffie, Candace (October 16, 2020). "Matt Berninger Strikes an Emotional Chord on Solo Debut". Paste. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  24. ^ Jocelyn, Hannah (October 20, 2020). "Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  25. ^ Vettese, Hannah. "Matt Berninger - Serpentine Prison". Record Collector. No. 510. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  26. ^ Dolan, Jon (October 17, 2020). "Matt Berninger Is a Master of Gloomy Beauty on 'Serpentine Prison'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  27. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  30. ^ "Ultratop.be – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  32. ^ "Top Albums (Week 43, 2020)". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  33. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  34. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  35. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  36. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  37. ^ "Top 100 Albumes – Semana 43: del 16.10.2020 al 22.10.2020" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  38. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  39. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  40. ^ "Matt Berninger, TLP". Billboard. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  41. ^ "Matt Berninger, RCK". Billboard. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  42. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2020". Ultratop. Retrieved December 18, 2020.