The Last Word: The National’s “Boxer” Rebellion

May 22nd, 2007 // 5 Comments

tnboxer.jpgEvery week, we round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Today’s entry is the National’s Boxer, which is released today.

- “The songs are subtler, statelier, with Matt Berninger’s baritone exuding lonesome warmth. “Slow Show” and ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ are standouts, while ‘Racing Like a Pro’ imitates the last thing about Leonard Cohen any normal band would try — his guitar playing — with typically powerful results. In ‘Apartment Story,’ when Berninger murmurs, ‘We’ll stay inside till somebody finds us,’ it’s both romantic and terrifying, and the drums kick it all the way home. Four stars.” [Rolling Stone]

- “Obviously, it’s pretty easy to read a lot into the National’s music and especially into Berninger’s lyrics, but that shouldn’t imply that Boxer is a willfully difficult or overly academic work. Like those on their last album, these songs reveal themselves gradually but surely, building to the inevitable moment when they hit you in the gut. It’s the rare album that gives back whatever you put into it. 8.6″ [Pitchfork]

- “There are verbal nuggets throughout the album — ‘You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends’ — but it’s not the antihero sentiments that make the songs memorable; it’s the methodical yet obsessive patterns that frame them.” [NYT]


  1. Jfrankparnell

    “Not since U2′s “The Joshua Tree” has such a limited band capitalized on cringeworthy earnestness. Singer Matt Berninger has less range than Natalie Merchant.
    And, as with Nirvana’s second and third albums: it’s the drummer.”

    I think I read that … nowhere.

  2. Chris Molanphy

    And here I was complaining about a lack of reviews – clearly I’m just lazy. Thanks!

  3. Julio Allison

    Ask for your copy today at participating Starbucks locations.

  4. TheDTrain

    I have to honestly say that I loved Alligator and that Boxer could potentially be 10 times better. Torrented it only to find out that I’d really like to buy it and support them cause its THAT GOOD!

  5. kerry

    @TheDTrain: Yep, I’m on the same boat as you. Really liked Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and Alligator, caught them live and was totally smitten, got Boxer a few weeks ago and it’s been getting pretty regular play. It always takes me a few listens to get through the layers of their albums, this one is standing up really nicely to repeated plays. I’m not yet convinced that it’s better than Alligator, because that album had some stuff on it that just made me weep, but I like the more grim tone and the orchestration on this, and think it’s probably a more nuanced and complex album. It’ll take a couple more months to see who’s the winner, though.
    The drummer just fucking kills me, though. The first time BF and I heard this he said to me “does that guy just sit around all day trying to come up with the most complicated beats he can?” Now I listen to it and imagine him at home going “this is fine, but where can I make it even harder?”

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