Sunday, September 09, 2007

Album Review: The National - Boxer

They say that record labels will only listen to 30 seconds of a band before they decide whether a band has what it takes. If that’s really the case, then I’m honestly surprised this five-piece from New York ever managed to get signed at all, let alone release four albums. I can tell you this much from the outset: The National are not a band that will grab you immediately. They are the epitome of those bands that are ‘a grower’. Their previous album, the critically-acclaimed ‘Alligator’, is a key example of this: initially dismissed as ‘nothing special’ by reviewers upon its release, by the end of 2005 it was raved about.

‘Boxer’ starts off strong with their first single ‘Fake Empire’, and never relents in its intensity, even if it’s a quiet, slow-burning sort of intensity. Throughout, Matt Berninger’s gin-soaked vocals (which many instantly compare to Nick Cave) create a mood of a man who often drinks alone, but is never judged for it – he’s probably celebrated, if anything. The album’s introspective nature is something that makes The National so special: while there are hundreds of bands out there yelling and screaming for your attention these days, the National are content to just keep playing until you discover them.

Boxer is out now through Remote Control / Inertia

No comments: