I didn’t really “get” The National’s latest CD, Boxer, until I listened to it late one night coming home from a bar. As I watched the street lights blur past, the music suddenly came into focus–glistening with darkness, powerful and fragile at the same time.
The only problem is…most of the time I’m listening to music at home or under a very different atmosphere. In that context, Boxer strikes me as treading water much as I felt Spoon’s new CD did (Ed Champion’s wailing not withstanding). Here, it’s as much about lack of variety and production values as anything else. The songs all seem to slide into one another, all seem to be of the same tempo, all seem to be going to the same place. So while I really loved songs like “Fake Empire” or “Mistaken for Strangers,” the songs all seemed to lose strength side-by-side, instead of gaining strength.
Still, frankly, it’s The National, and it’s a good, solid CD, full of thick, dark, emotional songs. It’s just not exceptional.