The National: Boxer

By Scott Kara

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Herald rating: 4 out of 5

Amazing how guys with monotone voices that verge on drones can make it in music. Nowadays, there's Interpol, and from yesteryear there was the late-great Ian Curtis from Joy Division - the most powerful and passionate drone of them all.

The National's Matt Berninger is another in the droll voice brigade. What makes him stand out is the understated way the words ooze from his mouth which has a cool - rather than sultry - sense of style about it. And being backed by some magical music also helps.

Like Interpol, the National are New York-based (originally from Cincinnati) and Boxer is the quintet's fourth album following their last long player Alligator in 2005.

Boxer is a deeper and richer sounding album, merging indie-rock, with hints of steely and jagged post-punk, alongside lavish orchestral arrangements. There's tooting trumpets on Fake Empire; lush violins, dulcet piano, and deep bowed cello on Slow Show; and elsewhere there's more straightforward tracks like rattly ditty Apartment Story; the thrumming and regimented Squalor Victoria; and noisy rocker Mistaken For Strangers.

Comparisons to Interpol are understandable, but with the National's vast use of orchestration and a less straight-up rock band approach, they come out best because there's more depth and intrigue.

Label: Beggars Banquet

Verdict: More cool droll rock out of New York City

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