The National - Boxer

The National are back with a follow up to the all round success that was 2005's 'Alligator'. Many thought that they couldn't top what they produced with 'Alligator'. They may just have done that. 'Boxer', released May 21st, takes you on a wonderful melancholic journey of wistful melodies and fantastic musicianship.

This album surprised me. I have a genuine dislike for this particular genre of music. It bores me, and generally leaves me wondering where my money could have been better spent. Not so with 'Boxer'. This album is genuinely superb. Forceful and tender in equivalent measures, lyrically beautiful and held together with wonderful musicianship. Produced by Peter Katis (Interpol,Spoon), 'Boxer' certainly resembles the work of the two artists, but is wonderfully individual at the same time. The National have provided us with a musical journey to explore for 43 minutes and it's totally worth buying the ticket.

'Fake Empire' sets the tone for the entire album. A wonderful piece of music beginning with a melancholy vocal performance by Matt Berninger and spiralling upward into an uplifting rasping performance which almost feels euphoric especially in light of the track's gloomy beginnings.

The album seems to follow this pattern. Slower, emotive songs like 'Green Gloves' are followed up with more convincing efforts such as 'Slow Show', and altogether the album just seems to fit. Very rarely does this happen. But the National's new offering feels like an album rather than merely a collection of 12 autonomous songs,

A personal highlight for me is 'Guest Room', where Berninger et al manage to successfully fuse the two main themes of melancholy and euphoria into a wonderful musical behemoth which resonates throughout the whole room, leaving me utterly speechless and craving for more.

Major highlights include 'Start a War' and 'Ada', but in all honesty, the album itself is packed to the brim with highlights from Track 1 through to 12. All beautiful and individual whilst being incredibly cohesive with the main theme of the album. I'd love to be able to comment on whether they correlate to the band's previous efforts but I can't, and anyway, who cares?

This album is a piece of individual musical brilliance. I really can't say enough good things about it. The National have created something they should be incredibly proud of. An album for all occasions. They have left me genuinely impressed. So much so, that I will go and buy this album on its release just to get an official copy. Buy this album, it will make your life 10% better.