The National – Alligator

AlligatorSometimes looking back, it’s difficult to remember why I purchased some of the albums I own. It’s not that I usually regret buying any albums, it’s just I’m a splurger. I’d much rather buy 5 CDs, DVDs or comic books rather than just one. Maybe it’s because I usually spend quite a bit of time actually getting to a store that sells what I want to buy. So what happens is that I usually hunt around for one CD more than I probably need to fufil my splurging needs Alligator by the National is probably one of those CDs; the only reason I can remember buying it was the fact that it had a good review in Mojo (I think). You know, one of those average length ones that doesn’t really say a lot. Whatever it was, it’s not been an album I’ve listened to that much but that’s mainly because I remember buying it just before I moved into my flat in Glasgow. So, today I decided to sit down and give it a good listen.

Alligator is an album that gives off an atmosphere of NY in the winter; everybody wrapped up warm and the lights turned down low. “Secret Meeting”, the first track on the album, has a wonderfully understated vibe. The drums are soft and there’s a lovely guitar motif running throughout the track. “Karen” is a mournful, piano-led track that again has some muffled vocals. My initial impression is that this is a group playing live in the studio, it all seems really organic and laid back. “Lit Up” ups the pace, with an energetic chorus but it’s over too quick. “Daughters of Soho Riots” is another melencholy piano driven tune, but the melody is just beautiful.

“Baby, We’ll Be Fine” isn’t as regretful, but is beautifully exectued with it’s string-laden chorus, and repeated “I’m so sorry for everything” coda. “Val Jester” reminds me of Arab Strap, mainly due to the hushed vocals and minimalist violins. I’m in two minds about Alligator; the album itself is very brief (13 tracks in 40 minutes, only two are over 4 minutes long) which makes it glide by. But I keep feeling that some of the songs could have been more fleshed out. As it stands, Alligator is a lovely indie album and maybe the next time, the band can come up with something that’s even more musically full bodied.

One week with the National (Parts 2 and 3 can be found on You Tube):


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