The National - Alligator
Label: Beggars Banquet
Catalog#: BBQLP 241
Format: Vinyl, LP
Style: Indie Rock
A1 Secret Meeting
A3 Lit Up
A4 Looking For Astronauts
A5 Daughters Of The Soho Riots
A6 Baby, We'll Be Fine
A7 Friend Of Mine
B1 Val Jester
B2 All The Wine
B4 The Geese Of Beverly Road
B5 City Middle
B6 Mr. November
Mastered By - Greg Calbi
Mixed By - Peter Katis
Photography - Mathieu Saura
Recorded By - Paul Mahajan
Written-By - The National
This band's ballads rock, and its rock songs possess an emotional urgency that you usually only see in ballads. I wouldn't call this emo, but maybe urgent chamber pop? Baroque rock? Whatever the National is doing, it's producing music that seems almost like fine literature....addictive, lush, loaded with smart, grown-up lyrics. It's as good as the Arcade Fire if not better.
Much has been made of lead singer Matt Berninger's baritone, comparing it to the growls of Morrissey or Nick Cave. It's an apt description, but Berninger also channels the dude from Crash Test Dummies and even early Bono (before he turned into an Ipod monster with mediocre, over-orchestrated songs). Berninger sings in an ironic tone without being morose. He's wry and heartbroken without being snarky a la the band Cake.
His band is held together by tight drumming, ever-changing guitars, spiraling violens and some very effective background chanting choruses.
There isn't a bad song on this record, but the opening track," Secret Meeting" shines by managing to sound like a cross between Roxy Music and the Clash, a kind of rich, moody rock anthem. Softer songs, including the funny "Looking for Astronauts" and the sad, elegiac "Daughters of the SoHo Riots," are be good ballads without being sappy, crappy Air Supply or Dashboard Confessional drek.
THE NATIONAL - SECRET MEETING - LIVE
The opening bars sound strikingly like Where You End from Moby's excellent Hotel album, but the track soon breaks into a swell of jangling indie guitar.
Listening to Matt Berniger sing I'm reminded of the casual vocal delivery of 90s golden boy Evan Dando, which is an indication of the move towards a much lighter feel to this track than exists in most of their work so far.
The National - Abel (Live)
live at Terminal 5, New York, in celebration of SPIN's 25th anniversary.
The National - Daughters Of The Soho Riots
My favourite National tune by a country mile
The National - Looking for Astronauts