Sound: When I first listened to Boxer I knew right away that I was listening to something special. Boxer is the perfect epitome of a " diamond in the rough. " Flipping through the tracks one truly realizes that the album, as Forrest Gump would say, is " a box of chocolates." Each track is diverse in its own way, though there is the undeniable indie ( and at some points "poppish" ) vibe connecting each song with the others. Unlike Alligator, Boxer seemed to evolve with the progression of the album. Instead of the constant screams commonly heard by singer Matt Beringer in the previous album, Boxer conveys the maturing of the band as they expand to a more quaint style of music.
Boxer was produced by Peter Katis (Interpol, Guster, Spoon). Throughout the album listeners will recognize the vast array of symphonic instruments, not to mention the remarkable contributions of Sufjan Stevens. It is noted that Stevens played the piano for tracks "Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada", both beautiful yet eerie songs. Boxer, like all other albums by The National, has a sound completely of its own. If I were to compare the sounds of Boxer to any artists, I would say it would be like Bon Iver if he somehow collaborated with the boys from Band of Horses, and that doesn't even come close to doing it justice.
Lets face the facts. The guys from The National have proven that Boxer truly belongs on Pitchfork Media's "Top 50 Songs of 2007." Any attempt from another musician trying to replicate the uniqueness of this album would be futile. The combination of Aaron and Bryce Dessner's catchy guitar riffs, Scott Devendorf's groovy bass lines, and Bryan Devendorf's artful drumming all topped with the unmatched wit of Beringer's lyrics and distinct baritone voice make Boxer, in my opinion, the greatest album of the decade. There, I said it! As awkward as it may be, Boxer is just like sushi. At first it may be an acquired taste but in the end you'll just end up wanting more! I've always believed that there is no such thing as a perfect album ( with the exception of "The White Album", of coarse) but Boxer is, in my opinion, the closest thing to perfection I've ever heard. If you pick up the album, prepare for 43 minutes and 23 seconds of goosebumps! // 9
Lyrics: One word sums up the lyrics of Boxer: "INCREDIBLE." If you were to read the lyrics you'd understand the genius behind Berninger's words. The lyrics were a little unusual at times; not something that you normally here on any radio station but powerful, nonetheless. It seems as though only the vocal talents and "the emotion through lack of emotion" by Beringer's vocals would suite the songs appropriately. After listening to a track on Boxer a few times, I guarantee that the lyrics will get you thinking. Lyrics such as:
"We miss being ruffians, going wild and bright
in the corners of front yards
getting in and out of cars
we miss being deviant" (from "Guest Room")
demonstrates the distinct/cryptic and impressive writing style of Berninger. Though puzzling at times, the lyrics from Boxer will make you wanna bust out the invisible microphone and start singing along even though you sometimes don't have a clue about what the guy is talking about. // 9
Overall Impression: Each song envokes a different feeling. There are really relaxing songs like "Fake Empire" and "Start a War" that made me want to put on a big jacket and take a walk on beautiful and chilly Autumn afternoon. "Mistaken For Strangers", on the other hand, made me really want to go out and start a bar fight. All of the tracks were special in their own way. The songs that made a big impression when I first picked up Boxer were "Apartment Story" and "Slow Show." Both songs were very simple, not overly filled with junky studio filler (most songs by them typically aren't anyways), and are easy listenings. If you're new to The National and aren't use to their sound, please don't give up on them so easily. I recommend starting by listening to "Apartment Story" and "Fake Empire" until you get use to them. Remember, they're like sushi! If you don't have a copy, go out and get one NOW! This is one will be an amazing addition to your collection. // 9