The National create darkly serious, literate and lush indie rock that reached critical mass with the group's fourth album, 2007's Boxer, which reached Number Five on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart.
Formed in Brooklyn, New York, the band is composed of Ohio friends Matt Berninger, whose brooding baritone is reminiscent of musical precursors like the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis; guitarist Scott Devendorf and his drummer brother Bryan; bassist Aaron Dessner and his guitarist brother Bryce. The band has recruited a number of horn, strings and keyboard players for its albums including regular keyboardist and strings arranger Padma Newsome.
The National's 2001 self-titled debut, self-released on Brassland Records, was heralded for its mix of melodic alt-country and bleak, introspective lyrics, but the band members had not yet quit their day jobs in the dot-com industry. After releasing a second Brassland album two years later — the similarly somber Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers — the band attracted the attention of established indie label Beggars Banquet. The National became a full-time band with its 2005 Beggars Banquet debut AlligatorBoxer, released in May 2007, was hailed across the board as the band's richest, most mature work to date.