Boxer

Let's talk about the drummer a minute. Bryan Devendorf's the name. He plays in the National, who do brooding Leonard Cohen-Nick Cave-style melancholy, except he's not brushing the drums elegantly, he's pounding, yet he amps up the piano, strings and guitar. He's a huge part of the reason the National built up a global reputation with their excellent 2005 album, Alligator, and on Boxer he's even louder, hence better. The songs are subtler, statelier, with Matt Berninger's baritone exuding lonesome warmth. "Slow Show" and "Mistaken for Strangers" are standouts, while "Racing Like a Pro" imitates the last thing about Leonard Cohen any normal band would try — his guitar playing — with typically powerful results. In "Apartment Story," when Berninger murmurs, "We'll stay inside till somebody finds us," it's both romantic and terrifying, and the drums kick it all the way home.

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