The National - Boxer

‘Boxer’ offers a continual flight of fancy that takes the arrangement levels up a grade without losing out to overproduction.


The National’s latest release has had many a muso feverishly awaiting its release, and from the opening luxurious simplicity of ‘Fake Empire’’s piano and rich vocals which present lush arrangements and a warm resonance, they’re unlikely to be disappointed with an album which brims with effortless intoxication, swelling and convulsing in a breath sifting through the external intrusions to engulf the listener.

‘Mistaken For Strangers’ has an air of Interpol surrounding it, as vocals are pounded by drums, while revealing lyrics are riddled with cynicism. Rat-a-tat drumming through ‘Brainy’ is accompanied by the husky growled tones of Matt Berninger sounding devoid of emotion, yet sung straight in to the listener’s ears as if an intimate secret is being divulged. ‘Slow Show’ then sets off on foot, defiantly stepping forward with a spring in the step. The tempo is increased as layers fall on each other crafting with each stroke a new twist.

Barely legible vocals in places glide atop a driving track with a hook to raise the tone to a point of clarity on ‘Squalor Victoria’, whilst a more traditional folk feel to the strings encapsulates ‘Ada’ - overflowing with promise and hope. As the vocals and melody intertwine, they purvey a sense of welcoming in their midst.

‘Apartment Story’ has a society in decline overtone (‘stay inside until somebody finds us/do whatever the TV tells us’) but is done with such aplomb that it doesn’t sound such a dreadful thing. A sparse rhythm pushes ‘Start A War’ along, allowing the lyrics to take the fore as they ring through with disillusionment yet defiant resolution. One of the stand out tracks, ‘Green Gloves’, has delicate strings and an echo to the vocals, giving the feel that it was recorded in a mountain shack remote from civilisation, bare and distanced as the sound of internal reflection resounds.

Rounding off with a genteel offering in ‘Gospel’ to soothe and close an album with universal appeal; trendy enough for the hip horde and stable enough for the more conservative amongst the crowd. ‘Boxer’ offers a continual flight of fancy that takes the arrangement levels up a grade without losing out to overproduction to produce a finely honed album of proficient execution.

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