A story from the early 1980s:
I had borrowed my folks' car, because I didn't have one of my own, and left one of my mix tapes in the tape deck. The next time my dad drove the car, he was taking my brother to work, and they pushed in the tape, and they actually liked what they heard – in this case, a couple of songs from a Stan Ridgway album. They got home, and tried to describe for my mom what the songs sounded like. After a few failed attempts, my brother said (and this is second hand; I wasn't actually in the room when the conversation occurred), "oh, you know - it's those types of songs that Jeff likes." The reply, and again I should note that I wasn't in the room, was "oh, I know exactly what you mean."
I admit it – I have a weakness for mid-tempo songs with a certain sound and a certain feel; "depressing" might even be the word that comes to mind.
The National's "High Violet" is right up my alley. With an album like this, atmosphere is everything. If atmosphere isn't sustained throughout an entire album (Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest," for example), you end up with something that's just kind of boring. In the case of "High Violet," when the atmosphere is sustained over the course of the entire record, you've got something special.
I would venture a guess that this one isn't for everybody. But it is for me.