The National

Matt Berninger and The National are back with a more controlled burn than 2005’s critically applauded and more overtly dramatic Alligator. Casual and spare, yet sometimes smirking at themselves in the mirror, The National’s organic arrangements of drums, strings and horns slug it out with Berninger’s hypnotic baritone, extracting Boxer’s 10 songs into one complex, mood-altering pill. Whether giving musical nods to Leonard Cohen or conspiring lyrically with The Silver Jews, Boxer is an epic album. A few sniper shots at the yupster crowd and allusions to war in “Racing Like a Pro” and “Slow Show” keep the lyrical tension taut throughout. Boxer feels like it was recorded in complete darkness with only an uncomfortable spotlight in the sky shining down where the sun should be. Introspective … yeah.