I'm not sure when it happened, but somehow Ian Curtis has become the new vocal template for a generation of singers. Not that National singer Matt Berninger completely apes Curtis' desolate drone, but he is certainly one of many new singers employing an indolent baritone in the service of indie-rock drama. To be sure, The National are far less gloomy and far more prone to employ a battery of stylistic shifts, but that voice is just taking some getting used to, no matter how many singers use it. Berninger fronts a Brooklyn quintet with two sets of brothers prone to switching instruments the Dessners (guitarist/bassist, guitarist) and the Devendorfs (guitarist/bassist, drummer); this is the band's third album and though it sometimes reflects the too-hip sounds of their surroundings, Alligator is an organic, spacious record, covered in gothic dust and emotional effluvia. Songs that should be simple are made psychically wrenching by the group's powerful sense of arrangement and … well, and that voice.
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