first started trickling out, it seemed people were divided into two camps: those who instantly fell hard for the new album and those who were a bit let down by the lack of "rockers" present. "Mistaken for Strangers" is the closest the upcoming album comes to an "Abel" or a "Mr. November" and, while it is both up-tempo and energetic, it still lacks some of the intensity heard on those tunes. Forgoing the (nearly) reckless abandon of the above-mentioned Alligator
highlights in favor of something a little more refined, "Mistaken for Strangers" is no less passionate and showcases many of The National's best qualities. Singer Matt Berninger's distinct baritone provides much of the color in the band's sound and sets them apart from countless other indie bands, but another element crucial in shaping the band's sound is often overlooked-- the drumming. While drummer Bryan Devendorf nearly destroys Boxer
opener "Fake Empire" with his overly busy playing (from the 1:45 point to when the vocals exit), he and Berninger bring their A-game on the majority of the new album and on "Mistaken for Strangers", in particular. Instead of competing for the spotlight, they compliment each other perfectly on this track. There is something truly electric that happens when the band is plugging away at their instruments and Berninger is busy narrating his street smart tales filled with broken, stream-of-consciousness imagery. When The National hit their stride, the band is nearly impossible to deny.
highlights include the simple, yet gorgeous "Start a War" and "Apartment Story". There will be inevitable comparisons between Alligator
, but this is a mostly fruitless endeavor, as nearly all fans of the band will greatly enjoy both albums. However, if I had to choose one album over the other, I still have to go with Alligator
. This was one of my very favorite albums of 2005 and, for me, the songs are just a bit stronger.
The National - "Mistaken for Strangers"Buy the album here
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