The National

Imagine this critic's alarm when, after submitting a not-all-that-flattering review of the National's recent Alligator CD but before said review was published, he discovered that the songs had somehow grown all over him like some insidious-yet-not-unpleasant rash. Yes, what he'd taken as stoic insouciance (look 'em up, smart guy) on the part of vocalist Matt Berninger had gradually revealed itself as barely contained, if perhaps narcotized, desperation -- always a premium entertainment value. At the same time, many of the lyrics that had seemed just kind of funny ("I'm like Tennessee Williams, I wait for the click / It doesn't kick in") turned out to be, in the fullness of time, hilarious and heartbreaking. Rhythms that had a moment ago registered as redundant were suddenly causing his head to nod, while previously perceived paint-by-number guitar hooks revealed themselves as totally fist-pumping. Ah, well. Mea culpa. C'est la vie. Don't miss this show.
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Scott Faingold