Boxer was the first National album I bought, in 2008. I had heard “Apartment Story” on The Last Broadcast, and thought it sounded something similar to Interpol, a band I adore. So off to the big city I went and picked up Boxer. Buying the album has lead me to pick up everything the National have recorded, I’ve seen them live five times, and while living in Vancouver I travelled to Seattle to see Matt Berninger as part of El Vy, where I actually got part of his sleeve!! Needless to say, I’m a huge fan.
You’ve probably heard 1 or 2 sings from this album without knowing it. “Fake Empire”, “Mr. November” and “Slow Show” have been used in TV shows and commercials, but they’re better heard on headphones while you’re out walking the dog on some rural road in Kerry, or in your car when you’ve pulled up at some lookout point to catch the view. The National are so relate able because they write songs about everyday occurrences, like being somewhere you don’t want to be, trying to get home to your better half to ‘crack them up‘, in “Slow Show”. If you’re ever looking for an appropriate wedding songs, or something to play your girl on her 29th birthday, check it out. .
With “Mr. November”, a song for Al Gore when he went for Presidency, Matt Berninger sings the promise ‘I won’t fuck us over‘ as they turn up the volume no end in what became a regular at our college house parties. This finished the album perfectly, going out with a bang. In contrast to lighter songs like “Start A War” and “Green Gloves”, the National showed that they have a diverse library of material to draw on from within the band. They also did this with “Abel”, a cracker because Matt gives it fucking loads, screaming through the chorus. Essentially, the album is beautiful, loud, soft, deep and out of this world.
Matt Berningers vocals seem so casual at times, using his tone to explain the seriousness or lack of, their lyrics. The Dessener brothers couldn’t make a better pairing as lead guitarists, not just on this album but on each National album. Bryan Devendorf is by far my favourite drummer, proving his talents on “Fake Empire” where the drums kick in, taking the song from one soft direction to a totally new deeper one. I’ve always been a sucker for bass as I’ve talked about in previous reviews, and Scott Devendorf in there beside Carlos D as one of the best out there. The band has been made more special because of this double twin act, but don’t have too many G & T’s before the show because you might think you’re seeing things.
And yes, Matt Berninger’s sleeve did smell like roses.
Incredible album, one of the best of the noughties.