Thursday, June 23, 2005

Big wet rose in my teeth

The National/AlligatorI’m really loving Alligator from The National.

I realize this isn’t a terribly original opinion as loads of tastemakers have already pledged allegiance to this gorgeous album. But shit, it’s been on almost constant rotation since I bought it last weekend. And I can barely articulate why.

This isn’t the kind of music that grabs you immediately. It’s not loud or angry or hooky. It’s subtle and complicated, made with palpable care and craft. Pretty, trebly guitars balance singer Matt Berninger’s strangely warm and engaging baritone and an assertive rhythm section keeps things moving nicely. Then come the strings! A study in contrasts, the record appeals both to a love of orchestral pop and craving for lean, spare post-punk arrangements. And the lyrics. They're elliptical, infused with regret about lost opportunities, loneliness and frustration with drug and booze-addled friends. Yet never hopeless.

Show up here loaded with bells on your toes
I don't care what you're into
I'll put velvet ropes around you, if that's what you need

Why did you listen to that man, that man's a balloon
Oh, you gotta get out and get back to me
John, you gotta get out and get back to me.

Friend of Mine (mp3) – The National

All The Wine (mp3) – The National

I had downloaded about half the album before I actually coughed up cash for the CD. But the sequencing of this LP is so perfect, I felt like I was hearing downloaded tracks like All The Wine for the first time. So go buy it already—I can’t recommend Alligator highly enough.


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