Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The National

  • Cherry Tree [Brassland, 2004] Dud
  • Alligator [Beggars Banquet, 2005] Choice Cuts
  • Boxer [Beggars Banquet, 2007] ***
  • High Violet [4AD, 2010] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cherry Tree [Brassland, 2004] Dud

Alligator [Beggars Banquet, 2005]
"Abel" Choice Cuts

Boxer [Beggars Banquet, 2007]
Love in the time of fake empire ("Fake Empire," "Mistaken for Strangers"). ***

High Violet [4AD, 2010]
I understand why the desolate love songs come first--in Matt Berninger's world, desolate love is pop fare. But what perks me up is three straight laments for middle management. "Stuck in New York with the rain coming down," "I try/Not to hurt anyone I like," but "I still owe money to the money to the money I owe." Then it's back to desolate love, only contextualized. Literary lights write novels about such stuff now, right? Why do I doubt there's one with as much emotional impact, not to mention compression? That's why we prefer music. What a bummer--yet what a thriller. A-