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Musically, "How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?" features what Dessner calls maybe the "clearest distillation" of his varying songwriting and production styles. Songs are built on the kinds of tear-jerking piano melodies fans have come to love from The National, but then move at their own pace toward unusual sonic destinations. "Aaron's greatest gift as a collaborator is his ability to evolve and experiment with the emotional sound that is so natural to him," Vernon says of the material.