NPR logo The National: Conflicted Enough to 'Start a War'

The National: Conflicted Enough to 'Start a War'

Start a War

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Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Start a War"
  • Artist: The National
  • CD: Boxer
  • Genre: Indie-Rock

The National plays atmospheric, nuanced rock that can sound threatening, resigned, or both. hide caption

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The National's atmospheric, nuanced rock sounds most at home under the hazy neon light of late-night diners and along deserted streets. As The National's Matt Berninger sings in a low, worldly baritone — "Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave?" — jewel-toned guitars quietly chime around him.

A lovely tension permeates "Start a War," as Berninger's words suggest an inevitable clash of swords. The line "Walk away now, and you're gonna start a war" sounds like equal parts proclamation, threat and statement of weary resignation, as the song's apparent contradictions are bolstered by Bryan Devendorf's expert drumming, a low rumble that sounds both thundering and restrained. The slow, majestic sway of his bandmates' layered orchestra suggests a denouement — a changed world after the tragic hero is dead and gone — even as the song's momentum continues to build.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Album
Boxer
Artist
The National
Label
Beggars Banquet
Released
2007

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