Review Summary: A torch held aloft in a dark, uncertain landscape, lighting a pathway for us all
Every morning, I stare into my bathroom mirror and perform the symbolic act of self-castration known as shaving. In a scene reminiscent of the destruction of a piece of Amazonian rainforest, I slowly and deliberately press the blade against my flesh, cutting a path through thick, obstinate stubble until there is nothing left but vulnerable, naked skin. My emasculation is now complete.
In most cultures, the beard is recognized as a symbol of manhood and virility. This can be dated back to biblical times, when slaves were often compelled to shave half of their beards in an act of subservience to their masters. Shorn of their masculinity, they became objects of derision. It is, quite frankly, the greatest metaphor for America’s current generation of aimless, neutered twenty-something’s ever to be conceived. The days of teenage liberty now in the past, we in effect surrender ourselves to a future of “no beards” workplace policies, poorly paid jobs and lonely weekends spent surfing the internet for amputee porn, surrounded by tissues and inexpensive hand lotion. The National’s Boxer
is a document of these dark days, set to words and music. In these twelve impeccably crafted songs, The National express a sense of discontent and uncertainty that the rest of us are either unable or unwilling to convey, turning previously intangible emotions into the collective sound of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. As the wonderfully warm and evocative “Gospel” draws to a close, the listener is left feeling comforted and reassured that things aren’t quite as bad as they appear to be, and for a while, all is right with the world.
Brooding and intense, Boxer’s
heady mix of nostalgia, despondency and optimism stands as a remarkable testament to the ability of music to provoke strong emotions in an already highly emotional person. It is the musical equivalent of a torch held aloft in a dark, uncertain landscape, lighting a pathway for us all. The emasculated hordes have finally found their voice. 3.5/5