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Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

2003 album of country-tinged doom from intriguing New york-based combo
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 2, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Brassland Records
  • ASIN: B0000C8AOY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,587 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I read the great feature on these guys in the Fader and ordered the album. It is totally unbelievable how great this album is --- I will be very surprised if the National does not blow up --- or at least become a major cult band like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or the Tindersticks. Songs like Thirsty, which starts off incredibly restrained but gradually grows richer sonically and ends with an absolutely brilliant string arrangement, just blow me away. Where did these guys come from? What I like most about this music is that it is smart and ambitious and hip without sounding overly contrived or image conscious. It seems to me that the National is not trying to sound like anyone or any particular genre (unlike most bands today). I get the feeling they are just making music as it comes to them -- without any thought to defining "a sound" that is easily marketed. The album ranges from stripped down traditional folk sounding tunes like 90 Mile Water Wall --- which seems inspired by almost any track of Bob Dylan's Desire --- to raging rockers like Murder Me Rachael and Available --- which seem to take their cues from Joy Division and even U2 --- to intricate electronic and acoustic arrangements like Patterns of Fairytales and Cardinal Song which seem almost entirely original to my ears.....very restrained, intelligent, plaintive vocal performances combined with subtle electronic percussion and intricate, almost classical guitar/keyboard/bass/string arrangements. It will be very interesting to see where this band goes --- there is a huge amount of talent and genuine songwriting here.
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Format: Audio CD
The title of this album is misleading. It could be called Funny Songs for Angry Lovers ....or Dirty Songs for Sad Lovers....lyrically, the songs explore different sides of relationships and there is a lot of levity..... song titles like Trophy Wife and Sugar Wife make me think the album title may be intended as a joke. Though who can say. Whatever the case, this is an interesting, intense album.

There are quiet acoustic and electronic ballads like the frst song Cardinal Song and one of the last, Patterns of Fairytales ....but also totally blistering, raging rock songs like Murder Me Rachael and Available. I am partial to the latter....but I think they wouldn't be as effective without the quiet, beautiful moments. As far as influences, there are some hints of americana in the Wilco sense in spots (like 90 Mile Water Wall) but also Joy Division in other songs like Available. I was turned onto the National by a friend who is also a fellow Nick Cave fanatic, but I can't really compare them to any specific Cave era or album. I am more reminded at times of Leonard Cohen and even Silver Jewsand Wilco.
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Format: Audio CD
I heard a song called All the Wine on the radio in Chicago from the National's more recent Cherry Tree EP and fell in love it. Got the EP and it is fantastic, one of my favorites of the year. It took me longer to get in to Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers -- probably because the first song, Cardinal Song, is a long, quiet sad and slow ballad --- but it is beautiful and I like it more and more. The second song, Slipping Husband, is the opposite -- up tempo, catchy and then unhinged in the end. The National keep you guessing though -- each song is like a new adventure and there are lots of different moods on this album. Overall, I have to say I prefer the Cherry Tree EP -- but Sad Songs will be in heavy rotation for me for some time. And I am very intersted to hear what comes next.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers after seeing The National open up for the Pernice Brothers. I like the Pernice Brothers but The National blew them away. It's true the album doesn't capture their on-stage presence...but how often do they. Watching a live show should be a different experience. Anyways...give the album a chance...it is GREAT.
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Format: Audio CD
Are you here because of Boxer and Alligator? Don't click on by...this where this band, which is lurks at the corner of alt-country and chamber pop, gets really good.

And this is where you catch them when their alt-country started to rock out, and when lead singer Matt Berninger, he of the Leonard Cohen-meets-Bono lyrics and velvet baritone chops, used to sing even more bitterly about heartbreak. And this is where Padma Newsome, the violen, piano and viola-toting guy that lights up "Alligator" and "Boxer" first comes along for the ride.

The songs on "Sad Song" are sad, but they're also bitter, and they also show the beginnings of a band that's grown to truly deserve a "symphonic rock" tag.

The characters Berninger sings about, over swirls of violen and chimes of guitar, are having a bad day. They've been cheated, mistreated, and, in the case of the disc's best song, "90-Mile Water Wall," they're suffering from a love so strong and wrong they'd rather drown than hang with their beloved.

But like all really good dark things, this is done with a sly sense of humor. On "Available," the thrum of dual guitar and the increasingly urgent chugs of their killer drummer power Berningers plaintive questions. "Why did you dress me down, and liquor me up?"

If you like the later stuff of these boy from Brooklyn, yep, you should add this to rack. It's rougher, more bitter and, while maybe not better, an equal companion to the stuff that Pitchfork's been crowing over lately.

And if you've read this far, and you like this band, you also owe it to yourself to buy the Nat's little appreciated, critically adored EP "Cherry Tree." It's even better than this.
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