Bought: Piccadilly Records, Manchester, 2010
It’s no secret that The National are one of my favourite bands, and I love almost everything they’ve released. Almost everything. I don’t love this.
It’s weird to think that a band who now focus so much on perfecting the structures and textures of their songs started out life as a middle of the road country rock group. On parts of The National they sound like a poor man’s Whiskeytown and some of the lyrics are just awful (“What are you for, now that I’ve got hardcore?”).
That’s not to say it’s all bad. This album probably fares so badly because of the quality of their later records, and there is stuff on here that at least shows promise. “Son” is probably the best song, pushing Bryan Devendorf’s drums to the fore in a trick they would repeat on many later songs, and “Theory Of The Crows” shows that they could do the blue-collar country thing as well as anyone.
When I want to listen to The National, this is never the album I turn to. While there are some signs of what would come later, most of the songs on The National are just too bland and forgettable. I’m glad they clearly thought so too.