sad songs for dirty lovers

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010

I love this album and I'm concerned that not enough people have listened to it. Since I'm currently fiending for the new National album, and since I'm being made to wait, I've turned to their older ones for comfort.


Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers is the National's second full-length album. I got into it after their second and third came out (I wasn't cool enough to be listening to them in 2003) and it's become a staple, whole-album listener for Saturday mornings and afternoons that feel like mornings. It's especially great when you're hungover. If anyone can understand your pain, it's the National.

The title is absolutely perfect for it. Compared to the next two, I think of Sad Songs as being prettier and more personal. There's also less Boxer-style drums from Bryan Devendorf that seem now to have become a band staple. And of course, it's full of the genius phrasing (both musical and lyrical), bleak humour, and drunken confessions that we have come to know and love.

My first favourite track was It Never Happened. The party kid in all of us gets what it means to look younger than you feel and older than you are. Available is a little mean and has made me feel intense shame a couple of times, but they never takes themselves out of the screw-up equation. Matt Berninger often sounds like he's just barely holding on, and I love how he sort of loses it towards the end of this track (he fully loses it on Slipping Husband). Both express his frustration at someone's failure to live up to their potential or fulfill duty. A couple more tracks showcase their ability to be sweet in their self-deprecating way, as on Lucky You and Fashion Coat (with a little political commentary thrown in). I think this album sounds like trying to figure out the right way to behave ('morality' sounds so heavy but I guess that's what I mean), navigating the transition to adulthood/manhood, and figuring out what we're responsible for (both ourselves or others). The opener, Cardinal Song, is a great example of this confused but sincere attempt to figure it out.

Related: I totally wrote this post before a new track from High Violet, Bloodbuzz Ohio, was released.
I continue to love the album art.

My anxieties are simultaneously assuaged and renewed. So far this album sounds like it'll be a great balance of the more abstract anthemic rock songs (that's what other people call it, I don't think of the National as 'anthemic') of Alligator, the introspective urban isolation of Boxer, and even some of the good stuff that came before those two.

Also related: thank God the weather is improving, as I clearly need to get outside more.

3 comments:

KT March 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM  

you forgot to mention 90-Mile Water Wall and Trophy Wife - the two catchiest songs in my opinion.

b March 28, 2010 at 9:04 PM  

Those are awesome songs, too. They all are. I kind of went with the songs I first got into. I just started loving 90-mile water wall in the last year. That's the great thing about the National - you can find something new to love dozens of listens later.

Chandani Bhosale March 1, 2017 at 6:03 AM  

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I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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