The National – Boxer

Just a quick note to say that this album.. whoa. Really good. Lush, but not overblown. Moody but not morose.

Musically, it’s a cross between Wilco, Joy Division, and Lou Reed, and is fronted by Matt Berninger’s deep, rich vocals which wrap around your mind and make you question why you spend your time listening to other bands which, in retrospect, sound a bit like whiny teenagers. If anything, maybe the vocals are a little too prominent, but for me, it works.

The first track, “Fake Empire”, gives a sense of what the album is all about. It starts out with spare vocals accompanied by a piano playing what starts out sounding like a badly played three against two pattern, which reveals itself to be a much more complex pattern once the percussion kicks in. The song builds and swells, adding horns (without sounding like a carnival or a mariachi band, which almost all bands that include horns end up doing..)

And all of this without sounding pretentious or showy.

2 Responses to “The National – Boxer”

  1. Kenneth

    Yeah, The National is amazing, and they put on quite a decent live show. Consistent too…their eponymous album is the only one that doesn’t quite measure up in my mind. Check out the Cherry Tree EP for a better example of their earlier work…

  2. Deepa Subramaniam

    I love this album, Sho! One of my favorites of the year. Its so melodic and their lyrics are just absolutely beautiful – not direct enough that they feel preachy and such, they give you room to make your own interpretations. If you haven’t seen them live, do so.

    (And, they all started off as web geeks in the early 90’s….).

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