Well, the critics are as obsessed as I am. Here begins the week of The National.
From Popmatters 9/10
"All these elements—the warmth and humanity and musical complexity, the indelible images and koan-like puzzles, the guitar-based rock and classical embellishments—go a certain distance in explaining why Boxer is so good… but they don’t quite explain it. This album, like all great albums, somehow transcends all the factors that makes it work, absorbs them in a seamless whole and breaks your heart in the process. All hail Boxer, the album to beat for the rest of the year. "
From Tiny Mix Tapes 4/5
"It’s a parasitic form of music that The National dwells within. It leeches onto the listener’s brain, sticking both of them into permanent symbiosis. It creeps, crawls, and shambles, infecting all in its wake. Zombies couldn’t have created these melodies, but it’s that sort of mindless state it leaves its audience in. And we don’t want brains; we want songful solace. It’s music to get mournful with, but as addicting as car crashes. If The National don’t blow up after this time up to bat, the joke is a bad one. Alligator was a declaration of intent and bombast, Boxer is the refinement of."
From Pitchfork 8.6 and Best New Music
Obviously, it's pretty easy to read a lot into the National's music and especially into Berninger's lyrics, but that shouldn't imply that Boxer is a willfully difficult or overly academic work. Like those on their last album, these songs reveal themselves gradually but surely, building to the inevitable moment when they hit you in the gut. It's the rare album that gives back whatever you put into it.