Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: The National - A Skin, A Night / The Virginia EP

A month ago, I thought about properly reviewing Boxer, my heads-and-shoulders AOTY from 2007. I intended to call it "Boxer as religious experience" as an ode to both the band and David Foster Wallace. I'm glad I didn't go through with the title, but one day, I would like to write about why Boxer is such a special record. Of course, I wouldn't be the first to try and explain it away, and that's where Vincent Moon steps in.

A Skin, A Night is a worthy companion to Boxer. The film follows The National as they write, record, and tour during the creation of their newest LP. If you're expecting interviews and straightforward multi-camera live videos, you came to the wrong place. I think the National like to be enigmatic (is that too obvious?) . Matt's lyrics depend so much on the listener's interpretation, so why shouldn't the documentary? That being said, it's quite abstract. Sometimes I feel like Moon let the camera run at arbitrary places and then shut it off when the good parts were about to come. I admire the editing, of course, and it looks really pretty. Still, the DVD left me wanting a little more. Guess I'll wait until 2010 for the next LP.

The Virginia EP, collects Boxer b-sides, unreleased jams, and live performances. Chances are, you bought the package for the CD anyway. And it's good. "You've Done it Again, Virginia" is a fine opener, though I'm happy it was cut from Boxer. The next four songs are very good. My favorite is probably "Blank Slate," the b-side from that 7-inch they did. Word of warning: the "Slow Show" demo is pretty lame. I know a lot of "Slow Show" fetishists, and if that's you, my advice is to steer clear.

PS - Matt Berninger seemed like a wreck while making Boxer. In a way, it's comforting to me. Not everyone can leave their self-consciousness at the door. Music is fucking scary, man.

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