The National are a New York-based indie rock band formed in 1999. The group unusually features two pairs of brothers–Bryce Dessner (guitars), Aaron Dessner (bass, guitars), Scott Devendorf (bass, guitars), and Bryan Devendorf (drums)–along with lead vocalist and songwriter Matt Berninger.

In 2005, the band signed with alt-rock juggernaut 4AD Records–where they remain today–for their fifth studio release Alligator. They received their first Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album in 2013 (for Trouble Will Find Me) and won that same award just four years later for 2017's Sleep Well Beast.

Though The National have long maintained a passionate fanbase, their music was likely exposed to a much larger audience during the COVID-19 pandemic–when Aaron Dessner co-produced Taylor Swift's acclaimed 2020 ‘surprise’ albums Folklore and Evermore.

The National Dolby Atmos TrueHD MKV Download IAA

In April 2023, the band released their ninth studio album entitled First Two Pages of Frankenstein. The album features guest appearances from a who’s-who of popular acts, including Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift, and Sufjan Stevens. Taking a page out of Swift's book, the band followed Frankenstein with the unannounced release of Laugh Track just a few months later.

In a first for The National, both of these albums have received Dolby Atmos immersive mixes. Though the Atmos mixes have been available to stream since 2023, we at IAA are thrilled to now offer both titles as exclusive immersive digital downloads through our online shop!

While streaming services offer convenience and access to a vast library of music, they also severely compress the audio to save bandwidth. With lossless Dolby TrueHD, the inner detail and sonic clarity is much better preserved for home listeners.

Some elements, such as the strings and horn ambience in the height speakers towards the end of "Hornets," clearly expose limitations within the 768 kbps Dolby Digital Plus/JOC codec used for immersive streaming. As shown in the short samples below (front height channels only), the detail and clarity is much better preserved for home listeners with lossless Dolby TrueHD.

Dolby TrueHD (IAA Digital Download)

Dolby Digital+/JOC (Streaming)

Frankenstein’s opening track “Once Upon A Poolside” sets the template for the Atmos presentation, with Berninger’s voice suspended in the front ‘phantom’ center while backing vocals appear largely in the side speakers. Group vocals come from all around for “Eucalyptus,” with the height speakers primarily utilized to lift the drums out of the front stage. Crisp acoustic guitars spill over into the side surrounds throughout “New Order T Shirt,” along with Phoebe Bridger’s background vocals in “This isn’t Helping.”

Moving into Laugh Track, “Alphabet City” kicks off with the synthesizer floating up in the rear heights and gradually traveling down to the front stage. An overdubbed snare drum appears isolated in the side speakers, while the haunting strings extend upwards into the front height channels. “Hornets” is another highlight, with the second acoustic guitar, backing vocals, and horns almost completely isolated in the sides. Roseanne Cash’s vocals in “Crumble” emanate from all around, nicely complimenting Berninger’s lead upfront.

The National Dolby Atmos TrueHD MKV Download IAA

First Two Pages of Frankenstein and Laugh Track are the fourth and fifth entries, respectively, in an ongoing series of high-resolution digital immersive releases from IAA and Beggars Group, one of the world's largest and most-respected independent label groups. Beggars Group is home to 4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade, XL Recordings and Young, as well as a growing publishing wing (Beggars Music) and a successful catalog imprint (Beggars Arkive).

Many more new album releases from Beggars Group are already available to stream in Dolby Atmos, including key titles from landmark artists such as FKA Twigs, The Libertines, Interpol, Sapha, and more. Over the coming months, we plan to make more of this fantastic immersive catalog available in hi-res downloadable form through our online shop.

Purchase First Two Pages of Frankenstein and Laugh Track in the IAA Shop!

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Immersive Audio Album is a marketplace where immersive and surround sound artists can sell their music.