I did a post telling the world what the best album of 2007 was in October and I guess it was a tad early, but it's now November and in just over two weeks it'll be December, so I'll tell you again... The best album of 2007 is The National's Boxer. Upon first listening to Boxer I wondered 'Where are the screamers that the band's previous album, Alligator, had?' You know, like "Mr November" and "Abel", the songs that Springsteen should play with them when he makes his surprise appearance with the band (I'm just wearing my fortune teller's turban here... or have I been out of the loop and this has already happened?). But shortly I forgot that the screaming was missing and began to absorb the subtlety of the new songs. The BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR (BOXER) shows the band at the peak of their powers: the vocals (Berninger sounds richer than ever), the music (the two brother pairings of Dessners and Devendorfs conjure more dynamics on this record than previously, plus the band as a whole displays a growing confidence by enlisting even more outside help than before with Doveman's Thomas Bartlett and Sufjan Stevens being two of the more notable contributors), the lyrics (from couplets that catch like burrs in your mind's sweater to lines that echo in the part of your brain reserved for crosswords and word games). All these add up to give the band's latest record my nod as Best Album of The Year. And (and this is a big AND) don't forget these guys churn out one of the most thrilling live shows in music (check dates here and here), I know, I've been thrilled much more so than anyone named 'Claire'.
And now an honourable mention, a resounding runner-up shout out, goes to Iron & Wine for the fantastic The Shepherd's Dog, but Boxer wins this dogfight.
Go out and buy these two records if you haven't already, or if you have, go out and tell someone to buy these records.
slow show from Boxer [mp3]
slow show demo [mp3]
brainy (alternate take) [mp3]
start a war (white session) [mp3]
abel (black session) [mp3]
iron & wine
the devil never sleeps [mp3]
BUY Boxer and The Shepherd's Dog
Download either, or both, of these outstanding albums at eMusic.
The Shepherd's Dog