On the opening track of their third album, this Brooklyn-based indie band sound a lot like the Crash Test Dummies. That has everything to do with the reflective piano chords backing the deep baritone voice of Matt Berninger.
The same track ("Fake Empire") concludes with a burst of horns, played staccato style, in a passage reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens.
And so it goes for the National, a band squarely positioned between traditional singer-songwriter melodies and the atmospherics of the indie era. The delicate guitar chords and haunting melody of "Green Gloves" recall the compositions of Gordon Lightfoot. But by the very next track, "Slow Show," the National are tucked back into the shell of acoustic impressionism, akin to the songs of Bonnie Prince Billy.
Ultimately, Boxer is much more likable when it drifts toward melody and away from ambient drone. The latter is an indie formula that's quickly wearing thin and one the National would do well to avoid.