Isabella Marcantonio reviews Matt Berninger (of The National)’s debut single
Despite this tracks unlikely origins in the new comedy film Between Two Ferns: The Movie, starring Zach Galifianakis, for which it was recorded, ‘Walking On A String’ still exudes the fragile, weary strength of both Matt Berninger (of The National) and Phoebe Bridgers.
The melancholy tune features Berninger and Bridgers at their best, fusing their talent for writing painful introspective lines and delivering them in such a gorgeous way that for a moment you could forget the true sorrow that lies at the heart of this song.
The melancholy tune features Berninger and Bridgers at their best
“I knew that I was dead before you touched my lonesome skin” Bridgers croons in her signature breezy falsetto over the bare soft instrumentation that carries through most of the song. Her voice alchemizes with the deep, conversational, growl of Berninger who echoes her morbidity as he laments, “I’m in a twisted web and I can’t pull my head from it”.
The song builds towards the final chorus as its softness is stripped and the heavy sounds of Walter Martin’s guitar shredding kicks in as Berninger repeats the refrain “You’ve always had me walking on a string/ In a way, I can’t escape it”. But we also can’t escape this track, or rather, its mundanity. While achingly heartfelt, Berninger and Bridgers collaboration delivers what is expected of them, and nothing more. If you’re a fan of their individual work then this song will nestle into a crevice on your playlist of soothingly sad tunes quite comfortably, but it won’t be a song you reach for often.