The National – Boxer

NationalThe National are in my estimation, one of the most underrated American groups right now. Their third album Alligator got a handful of favourable reviews in some magazines and that was it. It never got the acclaim I felt it deserved. I bought Alligator, but the songs grew on me over such a long time that I was initially surprised when it’s follow-up Boxer came out. There are no massive leaps forward in the band’s sound; they still have a powerful but restrained grip on melody even if there’s some complex drumming on some of the tracks. “Fake Empire” gives a good taster about how the album will unfold, a gentle rolling piano melody and some tender but wry lyrics “Stay up super late tonight/picking apples/making pie/put a little something in the lemonade”. It blossoms into drums and trumpets but ends quite quickly. Matt Berigner’s downbeat croon keeps the songs together, even if it sounds as if he sings barely above a mumble. Other times, there’s a barely glimpsed narrative, like on the “Guest Room”: “they’re going to send us to prison for drugs…/they’ll find us here/here in the guest room”.

There’s a genuine sense of contentment in the songs even though they can sound downbeat. With something as energetic as “Mistaken for Strangers”, I’m so into the music I almost don’t notice lines like “you wouldn’t want an angel watching over me”. It’s hard really to pin point what it is about the National’s songs that just stay with me. The second one of their songs comes on, I know it’s them straight away, not because they’re repetitive but because they have this feeling that’s difficult to put into words. All I can say, is they give hope to anyone who hasn’t released that awesome album that’s been building up in them for years. Now you’re in your mid-thirties and you want the world to hear them. Just like the National.


the National – Mistaken For Strangers:



  1. 1 My favourite albums of the year: The National - Boxer « A Heart Full of Hornets

    […] National – Boxer: “The National are in my estimation, one of the most underrated American groups right now.” I stand by that statement 100%. Boxer was the one album that I listened to all the way […]

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