Review Summary: This album is a loose collection of the ideas that would blossom on Alligator and Boxer.
The National's Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
was released in 2003 on Brassland Records.
The first album I ever heard by The National was 2007's Boxer
. I loved the album almost immediately, and soon after that I picked up 2005's critically acclaimed Alligator
and I also really enjoyed that album. I since decided to look into the National's earlier music, and I started with this.
Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
is a different album to Boxer
. It has more of an experimental attitude, which is evident on songs like "90 Mile Water Wall" and "It Never Happened", both of which have a country tinge to them,(think Wilco) as well as "Patterns Of Fairy Tales" which has electric blips and synthesizers, which are not very present in their later work.
Another thing I came across in Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
was sort of an amalgam of ideas that would come to fruition in their later works. Songs like "Slipping Husband" and "Available" evolved into songs like "Abel" and "Mr.November" off Alligator
. "Fashion Coat" is similar to "Lit Up", also off Alligator
. "90 Mile Water Wall" and "Lucky You" were the precursors to songs like Boxer
's Green Gloves".
Not all the musically ancestral traits of Alligator
were in the songs, but the musicians as well. In their later releases, The drums are an integral part of the music, often leading tracks like "Squalor Victoria" off Boxer
's "Abel". In this album he takes more of a conventional drumming role, staying in the background, occasionally showing glimmers of brilliance in "Slipping Husband" and "Murder Me Rachael". For someone who was introduced to the National by their later stuff, it almost seems like a different drummer completely.
and[ i]Alligator[/i] had their low points, they never had a track that was really "bad". However, there are times when Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
falls flat on it's face. The first is "Thirsty" which is four minutes of the narrator whining to us about his "dumbass brain" and then "Sugar Wife" which is just not very good. "Trophy Wife" just feels like filler, and "Cardinal Song" is not bad, it just tends to drag at times.
This album has it's highs as well. "Slipping Husband" and "Available" are classic National rockers, complete with driving drums and Berninger's manic screaming.
"90 Mile Water Wall" , and "Fashion Coat" are also brilliant tracks, and "It Never Happened" and "Murder Me Rachael" certainly aren't bad at all.
In conclusion, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
is an interesting glimpse int the National before they released two consecutive indie rock staples. it is an above average album and worth obtaining.