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Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers

Album: Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers
# Song Title   Time
1)    Cardinal Song
2)    Slipping Husband
3)    90-Mile Water Wall
4)    It Never Happened
5)    Murder Me Rachael
6)    Thirsty
7)    Available
8)    Sugar Wife
9)    Trophy Wife
10)    Fashion Coat
11)    Patterns of Fairytales
12)    Lucky You
Product Details
Performer Notes
  • The National: Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendorf.
  • Personnel: Luke Hughett (vocals); Padma Newsome (violin, viola); Steve LoPresti (French horn); Nick Lloyd (piano, keyboards).
  • Audio Mixer: Peter Katis.
  • Recording information: Excello.
  • For a band that's been compared to Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, Wilco, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the National sure sounds a lot more like the Czars or Uncle Tupelo on this sophomore album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. Where the band might lack Joy Division's angular fury, Cohen's existentialism, and Cave's vampiric attack, vocalist Matt Berninger and company whip up a murky alt country meets chamber pop vibe that's quite potent. The five-piece mostly keeps things on the country side of the fence during the album's first half, as slide guitars and fiddles overpower just about any hint of rock styling except the drumbeat, occasional feedback, and some screeching guitar freak-outs. Toward the album's close, the songs' textures finally shift from country to indie rock. Berninger is more than content to roam pastures featuring small patches of emo, sadcore, and artsy strings, clearly wearing his influences on his sleeve. Indeed, album-opener "Cardinal Song" could very easily be mistaken for the Tindersticks or Cousteau, with a passage that is a virtual note for note reconstruction of a Red House Painters song. Though the band focuses on slow atmospheric songs, it's when it kicks out the jams that the music is the most compelling. Case in point is "Slipping Husband," with its fine melodic waves and a perfectly placed bout of screaming. "Trophy Wife" presents yet another influence; the song seems a dead ringer for the Shins. It's hard to shake the feeling that the National is highly influenced by and studied in the bands it emulates, but the album is still worth a listen for fans of moody country-tinged lounge music. With so many influences rearing their heads and ample musical chops in the bag, the National might not be masters of any one genre, but it creates a fine amalgam nonetheless. ~ Tim DiGravina
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (10/30/03, p.88) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Plunging into the desperate erotica of their Leonard Cohen-meets-Joy Division world, this Brooklyn quintet sounds both decent and deprived when brooding about betrayal, lust, even snappy new outwear..."

Q (2/04, p.104) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[T]he skewed cuteness of 'Lucky You' draws matters to an endearing close."

Uncut (01/04, pp.84-7) - Ranked #54 in Uncut's "Albums Of The Year 2003" - "Like the record The Afghan Whigs and The Triffids made together in your darkest dreams."
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