The Patch

April 13, 2007

Friday 13th (OOH!!) April – The National: Boxer

Filed under: Music & Film — Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 1:56 pm

The National – Boxer


The album cover, yesterday

Two years on since the majestic ‘Alligator’ astonished all those lucky enough to hear it, have The National have returned with yet more gorgeous sweeping statements of sound and thoughtful insights into the human psyche?

Following such a masterpiece as ‘Alligator’ was always going to be difficult, and a subtle promise of pulling it off is displayed in ‘Fake Empires’, it’s soft piano led approach building into a brass tinged sign of defiance.

‘Mistaken For Strangers’ is similarly grand enough to raise expectations for another ‘Alligator’, showing off Berninger’s glorious knack for creating the most wonderful images with the most simple of word and phrases: “Well you wouldn’t want an angel watching over you/well surprise, surprise they wouldn’t wanna watch”.

Sadly though, after such a strong start, the majority of what’s on offer here never quite matches that early promise, and much of that stems from the lack of variation on show. Rarely do the band get out of first gear, and though soothing and occasionally beautiful, songs are just too easy to forget.

A bite previously seen in ‘Mr. November’ or ‘Slipping Husband’ is forsaken for this more angelic approach throughout, and its a decision that’s not so easy to understand.

It’s telling that the best moments on offer here are those songs that show of glimmer of menace, with both ‘Slow Show’ and ‘Apartment Story’ raising what emotion Berninger still has, and showing signs of the clear genius the band have in them. But unlike previous work, ‘Boxer’ is an inconsistent genius.

Far from a tedious affair, this album does have moments of inspired beauty few other bands out there could ever hope to achieve. Berninger’s lyrics are as curious and imaginative as ever, though maybe lack the dark humour and often terrifying insightfulness of before. There is a great album here, it’s just that bit harder to find.



In music news, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty reunited on stage in London.  Full report here.  I would write more, but I’m very busy.


Record of the Week

I’m going through something of an ‘oh my God, Joe Meek is amazing, I must listen to every single piece of music he’s ever worked on’ phase that most people should go through at some point in their life.  And there are few better examples of his undoubted genius than Have I the Right?  by The Honeycombs.  A superbly simple, yet atmospheric, example of the early British invasion scene that surpasses 90% of The Beatles early work.  Incredible.


1 Comment »

  1. […] @ 3:26 am …I was wrong about ‘Boxer’. You may recall a few weeks back I gave a review proclaiming The National’s latest LP to be disappointing. I apologise to all who read that. I […]

    Pingback by In other music news… « The Patch — June 9, 2007 @ 3:26 am | Reply

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