Just as we're nearing played out on this Springsteen-worshipping, heartland Americana sound, New York's the National come out with Boxer, KO-ing any prospect of backlash. Hyper-literate singer Matt Berninger monotonally mumbles his way through lyrical fragments that can often be difficult to decipher, but you're invariably left recalling lines or moments from each song despite having no idea what they mean - a bit oblique but highly effective. Peter Katis (Interpol) captures an amazingly rich, organic sound in his Connecticut studio, improving the National's even-flow, sentimental rock by bringing up the deep piano chords and taking down the lightly fuzzed guitars, all while Bryan Devendorf subtly bolsters each song with his unique, thoughtful drumbeats. A huge improvement over Alligator, and likely to launch the band into a new phase.
The National hit the Opera House June 5.