Release Date: Apr 12, 2005
Record label: Beggars Banquet
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The National may sound like a garage band turned down, but there's as much primal energy lurking behind Alligator as in any mop-topped group of city kids with bloodstained Danelectros in a dusty warehouse. While Matt Berninger's lyrics and conversational delivery rely heavily on the kind of literate self-absorption that fuels so much of the indie rock scene today, he never comes off as preachy or unaware that the world would manage just fine without him; rather, he uses metaphor and humor as bullet points for a profound sense of displacement and anger. Out-of-the-blue statements like "f*ck me and make me a drink," from the brooding but lovely "Karen," are effective because the listener is brought into the story slowly, almost amiably, before being led to the plank.
Alligator is the third release from Brooklyn based five-piece The National, and their first for venerable UK label Beggars Banquet. The move to an English label and extensive European touring, along with a better European reception for their sophomore effort Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers seems to have further distanced The National’s sound from their Americana-tinged self-titled debut. The slight electronic touches that graced Sad Songs are gone, replaced by a more straightforward guitar-driven post-punk sound, with bigger choruses and flashier production courtesy of longtime collaborator Peter Katis, who also produced Interpol’s two full-lengths.