The National
Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (105 Reviews)
August 12th, 2011 | 112 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jesus Christ you have confused me...

Like all bad reviewers, I'm going to begin by asking you to imagine a scene. You are Matt Berninger, the vocalist, you are alone in a darkened room and you are drunk. The words of a girl who was very recently yours slosh around your skull, teasing out both depression and anger which in turn sparks confusion. With all your remaining willpower you stretch for a guitar and a pen and begin the long task of transferring emotions from your mind to paper. I very much doubt that this is how Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers came into existence, but it's the image that is projected by the music and that's what is most important.

Because the album is depressed, it is angry and most of all it is confused. Themes veer wildly from escapism to rejection, from delusion to rage. It's a mixed bag of self-absorbed melancholy that doesn't really open itself up before you can picture the album as a whole, which may sound a little daunting to some but for those such as myself the unraveling is the best part of the experience.

On a lyrical level, Berninger is surprisingly frank, both with his own emotions and with how explicitly he chooses to phrase his songs.

"You fuck yourself to clear your head"

While this initially comes across as sleezy, the context that it's written in allows this since a broken-down lover is predisposed to uttering the odd obscenity. Berninger does prove that he can do more than describe his 9 o'clock rituals, the album is a mixture of memorable one liners (see the preview for this review), complete stories and obscure references that tie in to the narrative-based songs. It's too disjointed to be dubbed as a "concept album" but the continuity helps build up this lonely figure that we began with, and in turn helps us relate to him.

These lyrics wouldn't amount to much without the musicianship tying everything together and, regrettably, this is where cracks start to appear in what has so far been the makings of a fantastic album. At times the mixture of acoustic guitars and strings works exceptionally well such as in "Thirsty" and "Cardinal Song", but there are speckles of weakness in a few of the songs. The main culprit is "Murder Me Rachael" which borders on irritating and repetitive, though mostly by contrast with the rest of the album.

There is variety to be found, with some dabbling in electronic music (always a dangerous decision) in "Patterns of Fairytales" though it's kept subtle and in line with the atmosphere of the album, but structually The National don't venture from a handful of templates. This is not to say that songs sound the same, but it makes a few of them a bit more predictable and I would have liked the album to surprise me a bit more than it did.

All in all, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers can best be described by it's title, and also the fact that "it's good". You probably know for yourself whether this is your kind of thing, because it certainly takes some getting into, but if you're willing and have the time then invest some of that time in this album.



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user ratings (416)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Patrick Armstrong (5)
Everywhere I am is just another thing without you in it....

Dotmats (4.5)
A character assassination dressed up as a break-up record....

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (3.5)
This album is a loose collection of the ideas that would blossom on Alligator and Boxer....


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Perfect for the isolated 15-24 year old prone to crying themselves to sleep, which by my count should be all of you ;)

Feedback is greatly appreciated, I haven't been able to finish a review for a while.

ShadowRemains
August 12th 2011


21522 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

available rules

iFghtffyrdmns
August 12th 2011


7047 Comments


if you wanna not have your profanities starred out:
fu|i|ck|/i| - just using the square brackets and not those straight things :]

free vulgarity yeah!

Inveigh
August 12th 2011


25176 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a great album, but nothing compared to their last three

which are all at the very least borderline classics

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, fight the power! *stands up and raises fist*

*sits down to edit review*

iFghtffyrdmns
August 12th 2011


7047 Comments


hahaha YOU GOTTA FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY BROTHERRR!

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Indeed. Though a party to this album would be fairly tame.

Any feedback before I fall asleep? (Or after, waking up to feedback is always nice)

YetAnotherBrick
August 13th 2011


4518 Comments


Good review. The National have become one of my favorite bands due to their three most recent albums, but I haven't heard much off this or their debut. I should really check em out.

Digging: Soul Coughing - Ruby Vroom

thatoneguy726
August 13th 2011


1637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked their debut better than this. Both are awesome, but both also are nowhere near the greatness of their recent 3.

DBlitz
August 13th 2011


1691 Comments


just waitin 4 dat 90 mile water wall

coneren
August 13th 2011


11111 Comments


almost penises

seifer
August 13th 2011


1006 Comments


haven't got this one and their debut will probably check them out

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 13th 2011


6515 Comments


Because the album is depressed, it is angry and most of all it is confused.

Shouldn't it be 'depressing' and 'confusing'? ; )

Otherwise great review, pos'd!

I only know their obvious albums, maybe I should check their first ones out as well

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 13th 2011


16907 Comments


This is a great review.

Digging: Low Roar - 0

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 13th 2011


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

This review's writing style reads like a cross between Xenophanes and Sowing...SowingPhanes, or something like that.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 13th 2011


6515 Comments


lol

XenoSeason doesn't sound too shabby either

CrisStyles
August 13th 2011


769 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Should probably get around to listening to this all the way through one of these days.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 13th 2011


16907 Comments


aw c'mon this guy has only written 11 reviews

dont insult him by calling him a cross between me and xeno

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 13th 2011


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

But you and Xeno are good writers =.=" You know that, Mr CONTRIB sir! =.="

Tyrael
August 13th 2011


20972 Comments


If only you'd write a little more, then you would also be a Mr Contributor Irving



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