Paste Magazine and myself seem to be agreeing on quite a few things these days. We both believe that Juno was the best film of 2007. We both are paying tribute to the legend that is Joe Strummer. And now, we both seem to think that The National’s Boxer was the best album of 2007. It’s not that I’m a huge fanatic of Paste. In fact, I only recently subscribed to it because of the whole $1 subscription gimmick. But it’s hard to disagree with them over their choice. The National, who easily can be considered one of the most talented bands currently out there, made an album that is simply extraordinary. There’s really no other way to put it.
Ironically, The National are the exact type of band I talked about who have tremendously influenced by Springsteen. In fact, Paste deemed them the blue collar version of the E Street Band . The similarities are staggering. The five-piece former Cincinnati, now Brooklyn natives play the same type of emotional charged songs backed with the vivid, real world lyrics sung by the equally passionate Matt Berninger. The songs are often more like imagery-laced stories that depict everything from the superficial, egotistic nature that plagues America in “Fake Empire” to the struggles of alcoholism in “Green Gloves”. But what makes them truly special is Berninger’s unique heartfelt, baritone voice singing the words like poetry over the complex sound of the band. Everything seems torn and conflicted.
Boxer lacks the musical fury of 2005’s Alligator. Sure, the intensity present on “Mr. November” can be found on this album, but it occurs in a different manner. The more soft and controlled sound of Boxer allows the true passion and the resulting internal conflict of Beringer to be fully appreciated. He is a poet taking each word, each rhythm in stride, deciphering it’s true meaning along the way. The musicality of the album complement each of Beringer’s lyrical journeys perfectly. The soft piano accompaniment helps establish the sorrowing state of corporate success in “Racing Like a Pro,” while the orchestra like sound of “Start a War,” help create the image of the passionate yet fragile state of relationships. The album is brilliant in every aspect. And to think, these guys went mostly unnoticed until 2005. They are one of the true representations of the potential brilliance of music.
Buy the album on Amazon.com