An album by the indie rock band The National, Boxer is a moody blend of grand paranoia and disturbing intimacy. Matt Berninger's trademark baritone conveys a deep, dreamy sense of melancholy, without being maudlin or melodramatic.
Tracks like Mistaken For Strangers and Guest Room seem like covers of Smiths B-Sides, while other tracks seem to emulate the dread and weight of Nick Cave's Murder Ballads. Offerings like Fake Empire and Start a War feel wide and expansive, masterful in their scope, which is countered by songs like Slow Show, which feels immediate and oddly romantic.
Boxer is the sort of slow build record that doesn't make an impression upon the first few listens, but which induces a sharp pang of longing after a proper gestation period. The songs do not stick in your mind, frustrating your every thought, but rather run parallel to your thoughts for weeks on end, songs like Racing Like a Pro and Squalor Victoria seem perfectly suited for this type of auditory haunting. This album isn't the sort of music I would listen to every day, but it is the sort of music I must have access to, for my own peace of mind.
A fictional biography of the band, based on Boxer:
The National was a grand hotel in New York City
in the Fifties. The bell hops all wore proper uniforms and smiles. The ashtrays
were emptied every hour, were filled with black sand, and had a stylized N
stamped into them.
The house band played every evening in the hotel bar. Only a single
recording exists of their music, a cover of "You Belong To Me" as
sung by Dean Martin. They performed together for seven years, before the
death of their lead singer in a car accident.
Mistaken For Strangers
Start a War
Racing Like a Pro