The National's forth album is a sumptuous piece of alternative rock. A five piece band, they're led by the low rumbling voice of Matt Berninger, whos delightfully well observed lyrics give the album an extra dimension beyond the wonderfully crafted 12 tracks on the album.
Opener "Fake Empire" builds beautifully to a cruscendo of rattling guitars, driving drums and brass. In a world of synth-pop and electronic drum beats infiltrating rock music, it is refreshing to see a band not resorting to such measures to create a wholesome, rich and uplifitng sound.
However, the album is dark in places. "Brainy" and "Green Gloves" have an ominous feel to them, with the former being the best example of a faster number.
The National have all the strings to their bow: delicate and sweet songs such as "Start a Ware" and closer "Gospel", big songs such as "Mistaken for Strangers" and drama in songs such as "Squalor Victoria". All conjour up a myriad of images and scenes of natural beauty and intimate thoughts. A magnificent piece of work.
Although 'Boxer' was originally released back in 2007, I have to admit to only discovering it last year, when Amazon helpfully recommended it to me based on previous purchases. I have to say that sometimes these recommendations are hit and miss, but this one was definitely a hit.
The National hail originally from Cincinnati in the Mid West of America, although this album was written and recorded largely in New York. They are pretty much a quintessential New York indie rock band. You can sense a bit of the Strokes in here, but perhaps it is the deep vocals that make the National stand apart.
This is an album of brooding confidence and independent thought, each song takes twists and turns and yet it can never quite shake off the feeling of loneliness and emptiness that seems to follow them around.
The sinister Brainy is the real heart of darkness here. This is a theme for stalking with its dark lyrics of "You know I keep your fingerprints". This all delivered in the rich and velvety smooth voice of Matt Berninger who's vocals are now as deep as they've ever been. Berninger's deep vocals do not have a massive range, but when they deliver the lines, you can almost feel the bass cause the floor to shake.
The crashing drums of Squalor Victoria beat and rage through the song, bringing it kicking and screaming through it's duration and ensuring it does not get too down.
Slow Show illustrates their exemplary song-writing skills, not just in Matt Berninger's worn, dusty lyrics, but in the way the song is constructed as they successfully merge acoustic and electric guitars better than most of their contemporaries.
The whole album does not really deviate or develop The National sound at all, but that doesn't matter. What they've done is added little twists to the musical back drop which augments their sound, they've not gone over the top by adding a huge orchestra or something, there's little additions of accordion, acoustic guitar, piano or brass.
There only real down side to this album is that it's darkness could become a bit monotonous, Berninger's delivery isn't for everyone and will, no doubt, bore some listeners. Now I cannot claim to be one of those, as Boxer has quickly established itself as one of the most listened to albums on my ipod!
The National are most definately the best band in the world at the moment. Fact. Its just a shame that not many people actually know about them. A real shame. Because in "Boxer" they have one of the best albums of the last decade and on of the best albums ever made.
This record starts off in blinding fashion with the stunning "Fake Empire". I cannot quite find the words to express how amazing this song is. It starts off as a slow piano based song. Then this amazing drum fill comes in and it all pulls together. Ahh its awesome. I do find it difficult to express The National "sound", its just something that you have to hear.
My Favourite song on this album changes regularly, and I think that is the mark of a good album. At first i coulnd't get enough of Fake Empire. Then after a few listens i really got into Ada and its cryptic lyrics. After even more listens my favourite was apartment story. Thats the thing with this album you have to spend a lot of time with it and you will start to really "get" the songs. Some days I listen to it constantly and it doesn't get boring, it is just that good.
So in short this is an album that everybody needs to have.
This is my favourite band of the moment and one of my most listened to CD's! The National are a brilliant Indie/Rock/Alternative band and their music is truly addictive and I guarantee after this album you will be hooked!
The first thing you will notice about this band is the singers voice. His voice is unusually deep, almost bass. It is warm and gravelly and kind of dream like in its tones. His voice carries you through the album in a comforting and melancholy way. For me, this album had a similar impact to the first time I heard Portishead's Dummy album. Although they are not similar at all, it had the same kind of effect of being something new, something only I had descovered and I feel that when music feels as though it is secretly and truly yours then it is something you will treasure for a long time.
As mentioned above the album is somewhat melancholy but is great as background music and by this I dont mean something you can ignore but something that can accompany your thoughts and encourage them. I have this album on my head phones when I am writing creatively and I find that it gives me that right kind of feeling. I know this album wont be to everyones taste but if you like bands like Interpol, The Black Keys, Radiohead, Coldplay etc then this is well worth a listen. Loaded with unfogettable lines like 'I leaned on the wall and the wall leaned away' and other social observatory comments on today's society. The lyrics really are as thought provoking, cool and pretty as the music sounds.
This album has 12 songs and they are listed as follows:
2.Mistaken For Strangers
6.Slow Show = (My favourite)
8.Start A War
10.Racing Like A Pro
It is 43.01 minutes of running time and was produced by Peter Katis of The National.
In my opinion the best thing about this band is that they are roughly around my age and it reflects in their music in a very sophisticated and in depth way, I find this hard to describe but I think you will understand when you listen to them!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Fake Empire
2 Mistaken For Strangers
4 Squalor Victoria
5 Green Gloves
6 Slow Show
7 Apartment Story
8 Start A War
9 Guest Room
10 Racing Like A Pro