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Boxer [180g Vinyl LP + Digital] [Multiple Formats, Digital_copy]

The National LP Record
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.88 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

With Boxer, the National have reached four albums into their increasingly lauded career, never hurrying the tempo, never over-reaching in volume or instrumental density. Instead, the quintet's balanced on a pin, emotionally austere, if not utterly downhearted, finding brilliantly dusky ways for Matt Berninger's lovelorn voice to mesh with a pair of unobtrusive guitars and, here, an occasional phalanx of piano, horns, and strings. The tunes roll off slowly, Berninger's lyrics hugging the instruments with a sad brawn, rough-hewn as the drums and bass toy with angularity (try "Mistaken for Strangers," for one) but end up woven by that voice. Drummer Bryan Devendorf presses the songs forward repeatedly, as on "Start a War," where he gently thumps the time as the acoustic guitars frame and dot the melody, coalescing as the drums starkly chisel the melody. Nary a distortion pedal is harmed on Boxer, giving the National a magnetism so forlorn that you can't stop listening. --Andrew Bartlett

Product Description

The follow-up to 2005's "Alligator" is filled with lush arrangements and sees the band incorporating new instrumentation and expanded musical elements such as piano, trumpet, and more prominent background vocals. "...churning grooves and shambling new wave rips, turning up depressed guitar poetry that's both elegantly wasted and kinda murky" - Rolling Stone. "The National traffic in poignant moments of heartbreak and regret, but pain has rarely sounded so beautiful" - Spin.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!! Extraordinaire April 23 2010
Format:Audio CD
Quel album extraordinaire, à commencer par la voix du chanteur avec son mélange de Johnny Cash et Ian Curtis et la musique aux arrangement subtil et sophistiqué qui nous rappel un peu Joshua Tree de U2. Bravo !!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belongs in the Pantheon. Best album of 2007 Dec 29 2007
Format:Audio CD
The two albums Alligator and Boxer are astonishing.

The Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami once said, "I like movies that put me to sleep in the theater but keep me awake at night." That is how I feel about The National. They'll keep you awake.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  96 reviews
106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended May 22 2007
By J. Simon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The first thing you'll notice about this album is how slow it is. Only two songs, "Mistaken for Strangers" and "Apartment Story", rock in any kind of recognizable way. Others like "Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada" barely resemble rock music at all. The band's previous album, Alligator, was full of big rock songs and topped many critics and bloggers best of 2005 lists. This has largely been abandoned on the follow-up Boxer, a series of dark, mellow tracks, populated with low baritone vocals, horns, strings, pianos, etc.

If you've followed the band's previous work, you may be slightly disappointed by the lack of screaming or upbeat rock songs. There's nothing like "Slipping Husband", "Available", "Abel" or "Mr. November" to be found on here. What's left is a great mellow record that sounds like a continuation of the band's Cherry Tree EP from 2004. Highlights include "Brainy", "Slow Show", "Ada" and "Gospel". Give this record a little bit of time to grow on you. It was just released today, but I've been listening to a leaked copy for about two months (I bought an official copy today).

This band was originally labeled as alt-country, but has now become darker and more artsy than YHF-era Wilco. Each album has been an interesting change of pace and atmosphere. Check out their previous albums The National (2001), Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003), Cherry Tree Ep (2004) and Alligator (2005). I highly recommend them all, including this one. This is one of the best American bands making music today.
88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful slow burner, and my how it scorches June 6 2007
By Jennifer Barger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
When did rock music get so beautiful again? Yeah, It had something to do with folks getting sick of garage rock (White Stripes aside) and critics never forgetting the heartbroken punk of Joy Division. But it also came from the alt country invasion of the 1990s, the dawning of Wilco World and the success of such over-played buggers as U2 and Coldplay.

But really, the fusion of rock and, gosh darn it, gorgeousness, has gotten pretty pervasive of late, with dudes like Andrew Bird and groups like our dear, overhyped Arcade Fire. But I'd argue that the masters of the Rock Can Be Pretty Without Being Awful movement are Brooklyn outsiders the National. If you like moody, wry rock, I dare you not to fall in love with this record. It trumps Wilco, and it makes Interpol look chilly and terribly detached from the real world.

I came to The National's game, like so many people, with 2004's "Alligator". (Buy it now, really.)

And I love these guys when they rock, like they do on that album, and which they don't do that much of here. But the Nats do show perhaps a stronger, trickier skill on "Boxer:" the ability to musically experiment without coming off like a band at war (hi Jeff Tweedy!), the ability to fuse rock and folk without sounding like wusses, the jujitsu to channel a mournful-yet-upbeat sound that somehow brings to mind a 30something everyman. (In songs like the stalkerish "Brainy," you're unsure if you should hug lead singer Matt Berninger or issue a restraining order against him.)

"Mistaken for Strangers" is "Boxer"'s showiest number. A jangly, dual guitar-driven anthem about being out of touch with your peeps, it manages to be both danceable and a bit depressing, which is part of the band's appeal.

But not surpisingly, it's the slower numbers on this CD that wedge themselves in your brain. Take "Ada," a dark, hypnotic trope about a demanding woman, or "Slow Show,' a song of wished-for domestic tranquilty that'd make anyone want to hurry home to Berninger. Drums spiral in and out of time signatures, Berningers sleepy-yet-sexy baritone slings ironic lyrics of relationships gone wrong and right, and all seems both right and terribly sad with the world.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Alligator? May 23 2007
By Clay Reimus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is the most subdued and interesting record from The National yet, and I firmly believe it will garner them wider attention and praise. This may not be a positive thing for a band that seems to thrive on being "the best thing you've never heard," but after two stellar albums back-to-back, they deserve it.

Boxer is a great example of style and substance combined, and it's likable on so many different levels that it's difficult to cover all the bases even after 5 or 6 attentive listens. Matt Berenger is a flexible and fascinating lyricist, moving from personal introspection to political commentary to clever, silly wordplay, sometimes all in one song. In a genre of music where music is written in a very formulaic way, with just the right balance of malaise and heartbreak, Berenger's deep baritone exudes authenticity.

Immediately you will notice that there is no point of release on Boxer--what Mr. November was to Alligator, or Slipping Husband to Sad Songs. Drummer Bryan Devendorf is just as high in the mix as usual, and his complex rhythms and subtlety (see: Brainy) are striking. The album maintains a tense balance of tension and beauty that reveals itself to you over time.

At first I was highly suspicious of claims that The National writes "albums that grow on you." It seemed like music journalists were just trying to cover themselves for completely missing the boat on Alligator the first time around (and they're still using it as an excuse, instead of saying "we messed up"). But there is definitely some truth to it. The band throws away their catchiest tunes, because "it's the odd ducks that stick with us." There's very few familiar themes to latch on to, and The National is a band that requires patience and trust.

Boxer is breathtaking, beautiful, and an impressive experiment of sorts: that this band can change their sound, and go in an orchestral direction, while still producing something relevant.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars... The National keeps getting better and better July 5 2007
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The National (originaly hailing from Cincinnati incidentally, before moving to New York in the late 90s) have slowly but surely building their indie-music resume since their outstanding 2001 self-titled debut album. After their 3rd album, 2005's "Alligator", now comes the eagerly anticipated new album.

"Boxer" (12 tracks, 43 min.) shows the band progressing again with, at times, magical results. The first 4 tracks of the album are in my opinion the best the band has ever been. The opener "Fake Empire" starts off very calmy before slowing bursting into almost-epic sounds. "Mistake for Strangers" is a coulda/shoulda be hard-charging radio single, which reminds me of Joy Division, of all bands, as is "Brainy", which is followed by my favorite track of the album "Squalor Victoria", which features some lush orchestral instrumentation on top of the intense drums and piano, what a way to cap a perfect initial third of the album. After that, things level off a bit. "Apartment Story" is another hard-charged song that works great. Interesting to note that Sufjan Stevens plays piano on "Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada". The closer "Gospel" is the perfect summary of the album: quiet, yet charged, it captures the mood.

If mainstream radio would be a bit more open-minded, the National might break big. Given the sorry state of radio these days, I very much doubt it. But it doesn't detract from the intrinsic beauty of "Boxer" as an album, and the National keeps winning more fans with each tour. I just love this slow-burner mood piece that this album is. Highly recommended!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hard-Hitting "Boxer" June 23 2009
By Gerald Brennan - Published on Amazon.com
I wasn't sure I liked this album when I first got it in 2007; in truth, I think I wasn't ready for it.

Since their 2001 debut, The National have become one of the most compelling bands in indie rock. Fortunately for those of us who are paying attention, their most recent album, "Boxer," is perhaps their strongest--and certainly their most adventurous. It's great to hear a band committed to both honing their strengths and expanding upon them. Bryan Devendorf's drumming is an incredible propulsive force; it makes the music ebb and flow like a surging, swirling ocean, a dark sea of melancholy that somehow manages to be both depressing and energetic at the same time. And again, Matt Berninger's voice floats atop, memorable and vulnerable, funny and sad.

That voice, and its relationship to the rest of the music, have changed quite a bit. On "Alligator," he was mixed more clearly; he may have been adrift on the stormy seas, but his voice rose above the noise, telling us what we needed to hear but didn't want to, over and over again. Here, he's sometimes almost drowned out by the music. Still, the effect is arresting and compelling, distant but haunting, like watching a YouTube video of someone slipping beneath the waves.

Yet we root for him, for when his lyrics are clear, it's apparent that his stories are our stories, his struggles, ours. Berninger paints relationships like Monet paints haystacks--exhaustively, with an eye for subtle shading and changes in atmosphere and mood that others would find mundane. On "Apartment Story," he chronicles what sounds like an alcoholic codependent relationship, one where a couple ends up holed up in an apartment like shipwreck survivors on a deserted island, seeking solace in mutual isolation, relying on the sterile quasi-humanity of technology to avoid the brutality of actual human interaction. "We'll stay inside `till somebody finds us, do whatever the T.V. tells us, stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz," he says. And yet, on the next song, it seems like he and his lover are recoiling from the claustrophobia of their self-imposed exile; he's telling someone: "We were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do now. Walk away now, and you're gonna start a war." Throughout the album, there are similar pictures, tense and angry, funny and sad. It feels personal enough to be authentic, but general enough that you can relate to it.

The National have been likened to Bruce Springsteen; his grandiose soundscapes are clearly an influence, and they covered "Mansion on the Hill" on their "Virginia" EP. But their music feels more authentic to me, in that they speak not to blue-collar life, but to white-collar people who live a bleak, black life in which the paths to happiness--through work or romance or politics or oblivion--are murkier than ever. Radiohead's "OK Computer" and "Kid A" and Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" are often cited as emblematic records of this generation; "Boxer" (and its predecessor, "Alligator") deserve a place alongside them. All in all, they paint an unforgettable picture of post-millenial life, of Americans "half awake in our fake empire," searching for meaning in relationships and looking for feeling in alcohol, but finding tensions and frustrations that mirror those in the confusing angry world outside.
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