Along with Arcade Fire this album was one of the highlights of 2005. I wasnt that familiar with The National before this but soon became obsessed with Alligator. It is so infectious and unlike anything I can think of. Lyrically this album is fascinating. Curious and often beautiful poetry is delivered with deep, baritone restraint by front man Matt Berninger. The often confessional subject matter is strangely hopeful and yet tinged with melancholy
The National hail from Brooklyn (or is it Ohio - Ed.) and yet have little in common both thematically or musically with the New York house style we are used to hearing. Lyrics like My bodyguard shows her revolver to anyone who asks and yes she comes to attention when you come up to me too fast, and Come be my waitress and serve me tonight, serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon, hint at a surreal and yet romantic view of this world that thought provoking and touching. Its hard to break this album down into standout tracks as it is such a complete work of unrivalled originality but if I had to I would say Lit Up, Friend Of Mine and Geese Of Beverly Road simply rule.
Alligator is the reason I constantly find myself trawling through the new releases, because every so often you come across something like this that moves you with its beauty, its honesty and its quality. The trouble is that everything else gets judged accordingly and I am rarely satisfied now.