Music Review: The National

Jeff VanderMeer • August 21st, 2007 @ 8:38 pm • Music Reviews

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.

5 Responses to “Music Review: The National”

  1. Matt Staggs says:

    I felt the same way when I picked up Interpol’s “Turn On the Bright Lights” years ago. I guess I was expecting the second coming of Joy Division or – Gawds forbid – Bauhaus.

    Hey, kind of off topic here, but can you recommend any places on line for me to go and find decent music reviews and leads on new music?

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Pop Matters is opinionated and often good.

    And, er, over time you can come here. LOL! I’ll be posting music reviews regularly.

    Jeff

  3. GabrielM says:

    It’s true that there’s little variety, but I have to say I really love this CD, it might be my favorite of the year. For listening to while on a lonesome, urban late-night jaunt it’s quite perfect. I don’t make much of a distinction between the songs, perhaps because I’ve come to enjoy the CD as a whole so much.

  4. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    It might grow on me, Gabriel. I’ve thought about selling it back several times, and haven’t yet.

    JV

  5. Edward Champion’s Return of the Reluctant » Roundup says:

    [...] Mr. VanderMeer, I will concede that The National’s Boxer does tread water somewhat. But you are dead wrong about the new [...]

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