The National - Boxer (Vinyl LP)
On 2007's BOXER, the National's second full-length album for the venerable Beggars Banquet label, the Brooklyn-based indie-rock act follows up the lauded ALLIGATOR with another round of melancholy guitar-driven tunes. Led by deep-voiced vocalist Matt Berninger, who often sounds hung-over yet disarmingly articulate, the band excels at brooding mid-tempo songs, as exemplified by the world-weary "Fake Empire," which combines political and personal themes, and "Mistaken for Strangers," a track that recalls NYC peers Interpol, thanks in part to the punchy approach of shared producer Peter Katis. And while his presence isn't immediately apparent, indie hero Sufjan Stevens contributes piano to two tracks ("Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada"), adding to the National's increasingly expansive aesthetic, which also incorporates strings and horns. Though BOXER is more subdued than ALLIGATOR, it will likely appeal to those won over by the earlier outing.