You know, I really don’t mean to sound as much like a Jack-Black-in-High Fidelity-level music snob as I do sometimes. When I refer to, for instance, “Fake Empire”, the first track on the sophomore album by The National, as a “Song You Don’t Know,” what I actually mean is that it’s a song you probably haven’t heard, but that I think you’d enjoy. “You” being a hypothetical gender-neutral entity of indeterminate appearance, of course.
I don’t mean “you don’t know this, and I do, because I’m an unappreciated music snob-cum-Allston/Brighton hipster who wears tight, ironic t-shirts, and I am thus better than you.” Because, even though I am an unappreciated music snob-cum-Allston/Brighton hipster who wears tight, ironic t-shirts, you are way, way better than me. (note to self: tag this under “self-deprecation”) For example, you, said gender-neutral entity, who is perhaps nothing but a giant glowing ball of light and love, for all I know, with your infinite potential as an undefined human being, probably exercize more.
Having said that, The National reminds me of Dire Straits meets Leonard Cohen, without all the edges sanded down. Their big single is “Mistaken For Strangers,” and that rules too, but “Fake Empire” is my favorite – it’s beautiful and uses all its disparate parts to its full advantage. The drums come in like the drummer showed up late for rehearsal and started bashing out any old thing, and for about fifteen seconds, you think the song isn’t going to work at all. And then it does. And it’s brilliant.
So, here’s The National playing “Fake Empire” on Letterman a while back. Bask in the moody, grey summer day-ness of it all. Wallow, if you like. You can do your pilates tomorrow.