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CD Review: The National - Boxer

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Boxer, out May 22 on Beggars Banquet, is the kind of record that makes you want to do nothing with your life. More specifically, The National’s fourth, full-length album is an offering of unfussy rock that is neither sentimental nor whiny, rather, a perfectly romanticized malaise that could convince even the most upwardly mobile type-A to consider a path of murky, scotch-fueled depression.

Matt Berninger’s confident and dreamy bass-baritone opens the record by quietly guiding the piano to the drums on Fake Empire, and you can almost see him sitting like a cool sadsack at a dusty truckstop somewhere. That imagery saturates the album, though I recall no mention of dust or trucks.

Because The National does understated so well, flourishes like layered background vocals, choruses of horns and gentle swells go a long way to enhancing the overall sound. Mistaken For Strangers stands out with its twitchy pop precision and fleeting moments of Interpol drone, Green Gloves is like a pretty and sad memory of not getting what you wanted, while Slow Show is destined for hipster-in-love mixes wanting to convey that eternally complex “I’m totally into you” sentiment. Also noteworthy is a guest appearance by Sufjan Stevens playing piano on tracks Racing Like a Pro and Ada.

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This must-have for summer will take the pressure off of feeling good, and the edge off of feeling bad.

Download: The National - Fake Empire [MP3]

Download: The National - Mistaken For Strangers [MP3]