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

Brian Raftery | May 22, 2007 11:05 am

Every 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]