There's practically a new genre for trite-by-the-book rock bands that find themselves featured on the WB one month and dropped from a major label the next. What saves the National from being one of these is singer Matt Berninger's low-like-the-Magnetic-Fields dive-bar croon. This is not to say that Berninger's bandmates spend all their time in the cheese section of the grocery store. In fact, the brothers Devendorf (drums and guitar) and Dessner (bass and more guitar) are cleverly restrained, only giving it up (that is, rocking out) when absolutely necessary. This band could produce some pretty sour results if it had a frontman who pushed the pop envelope too much. Instead, on Cherry Tree we find the musicians placing Led Zeppelin I torch songs and U2 hooks under one of contemporary indie rock's most tender, velvety, and emotive voices.
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