Boxer (The National album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedMay 22, 2007
RecordedTarquin Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut
LabelBeggars Banquet
The National chronology
The Virginia EP
Singles from Boxer
  1. "Mistaken for Strangers"
    Released: April 30, 2007
  2. "Apartment Story"
    Released: November 5, 2007
  3. "Fake Empire"
    Released: June 23, 2008

Boxer is the fourth studio album by American indie rock band The National, released on May 22, 2007 on Beggars Banquet Records. Produced by both Peter Katis and the band itself, the album has sold nearly 430,000 copies in the U.S.[1] Following its release, the album debuted at #68 on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling about 9,500 copies in its first week.[2]

A documentary film, titled A Skin, A Night, was released the following year. Focusing on the recording process of Boxer, the film was directed by independent filmmaker Vincent Moon, and released in conjunction with a collection of b-sides, demos and live recordings, titled The Virginia EP, on May 20, 2008.

Background and recording[edit]

The band recorded Boxer with producer Peter Katis, with vocalist Matt Berninger stating, "We recorded a lot of it at home. Probably half and half of home recording and recording with Peter in the studio. We always kind of work that way, going in and out of studios and then back home. We have little home set-ups. He has been a big part of the band for awhile, [sic] at least in the recording of the records. He kind of jumps in as a seventh member."[3]

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens appears on the tracks, "Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada". Regarding his recording contributions, Berninger noted, "Bryce has played a lot with [Sufjan’s] touring band, so Bryce knows him really well. And [Sufjan] lives in the same neighborhood that Bryce and Aaron live in. They just called him and he came over for a day. It was a one-day collaboration. Him, Bryce and Aaron hang out a lot and make little songs together, so it was really a kind of casual type of collaboration."[3]

Writing and composition[edit]

The track "Slow Show" contains lyrics from the band's song "29 Years," which previously appeared on their self-titled debut album.


The album cover is a photo of the band performing the tracks "The Geese of Beverly Road" and "Daughters of the Soho Riots" from the band's previous album, Alligator (2005), at producer Peter Katis's wedding.[4]


The National made their television debut on July 24, 2007, performing "Fake Empire" on the Late Show with David Letterman. The band later performed "Apartment Story" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on September 26, 2007.

In pop-culture[edit]

Two songs off Boxer appeared in episodes of the NBC series Chuck. "Slow Show" appeared on "Chuck Versus the Tango" which aired October 8, 2007, while "Fake Empire" appeared in "Chuck Versus the Break-up" on October 13, 2008.

"Slow Show" was also featured in Gossip Girl, in the episode "O Brother, where Bart Thou?" while "Fake Empire" appeared in Person of Interest episode "Sotto Voce", the final scenes of the pilot episode of NBC's police drama Southland, as well as the concluding scenes of the 2008 movie Battle in Seattle. "Fake Empire" also featured in Barack Obama's campaign video "Signs of Hope and Change." "Start a War" appeared on an episode of The Riches, which aired March 25, 2008 and "Bullet," the 19th episode of the 7th and final season of Cold Case, aired on April 4, 2010, as well as in the 2011 film Warrior.

"Mistaken for Strangers" made an appearance in an advertisement for E4's Skins series. The fifth season premiere of the teen drama One Tree Hill, entitled "4 Years, 6 Months, 2 Days", featured the songs "Fake Empire," "Green Gloves," and "Slow Show", whilst the following episode of the series was called "Racing Like a Pro". The tenth episode of the science fiction drama Defying Gravity, titled "Deju Vu," featured the song "Start a War", as did the episode of medical drama House, titled "Larger Than Life". The song "Start a War" was also featured on Friday Night Lights in the episode "Keep Looking."

Lyrics from "Racing Like A Pro" having been excerpted in the novel Imperial Bedrooms by American author Bret Easton Ellis.

Boxer is set to be the season one subject of a podcast[5], Coffee & Flowers, which will explore the album's lyrics and music, and incorporate interviews with the band and key personnel involved in Boxer's production.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[7]
The A.V. ClubA[8]
The Guardian3/5 stars[9]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[10]
Mojo4/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[14]
Slant Magazine5/5 stars[15]
Spin4/5 stars[16]

Boxer received widespread acclaim from music critics.[6] In the year-end issue of Paste the album was named the best record of 2007. "Mistaken for Strangers" was #92 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 100 Best Songs of 2007."[17] Popular internet publication Pitchfork ranked the album #17 in their annual end-of-the-year "Top 50 Albums of 2007" list,[18] as well as on Stylus Magazine's "Top 50 Albums of 2007" list at #5.[19] Stylus also ranked "Fake Empire" at #7 on their "Top 50 Songs of 2007" list.[20]Boxer also garnered the #1 position on's "97 Best of 2007.".[21]

Boxer has made numerous "albums of the decade" lists including Pitchfork,[22] Aquarium Drunkard,[23] Paste,[24] The Pop Cop,[25] and more.

Track listing[edit]

1."Fake Empire"Matt Berninger, Bryce Dessner3:25
2."Mistaken for Strangers"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner3:30
3."Brainy"Matt Berninger, Carin Besser, Aaron Dessner3:18
4."Squalor Victoria"Matt Berninger, Bryce Dessner2:59
5."Green Gloves"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner3:39
6."Slow Show[26]"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner4:08
7."Apartment Story"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner3:32
8."Start a War"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner3:16
9."Guest Room"Matt Berninger, Bryce Dessner3:18
10."Racing Like a Pro"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner3:23
11."Ada"Matt Berninger, Carin Besser, Scott Devendorf4:03
12."Gospel"Matt Berninger, Carin Besser, Aaron Dessner4:29
Japanese CD and iTunes bonus tracks
13."Blank Slate"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Scott Devendorf3:17
14."Santa Clara"Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner4:06


The National
Additional Personnel
  • Produced by Peter Katis and The National.
  • Additional production by Aaron Dessner.
  • Recorded and mixed by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, CT.
  • Second engineer: Greg Georgio; assisted by Nathan Curry and Cory Foley-Marsello.
  • Home recording by The National and Brandon Reid in Brooklyn, NY and White Sulphur Springs, WV.
  • Additional recording by Greg Georgio and Josh Clark at The Seaside Lounge, and Bennett Paster at Benny's Wash n' Dry, Brooklyn.
  • Mastered by Fred Kevorkian at Kevorkian Mastering, New York, NY.
  • Orchestration by Padma Newsome.
  • Additional arrangements by Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner.
  • Cover photo by Abbey Drucker.
  • Interior photos by Clara Claus.
  • Design by Distant Station Ltd.
Additional musicians
  • Tim Albright – trombone
  • Thomas Bartlett – keyboards, accordion
  • Carin Besser – vocals on "Apartment Story"
  • CJ Camerieri – trumpet
  • Rachael Elliott – bassoon
  • Pauline de Lassus – vocals
  • Marla Hansen – vocals
  • Ha-Yang Kim – cello
  • Padma Newsome – viola, violin, organ
  • Sara Phillips – clarinet
  • Alex Sopp – flute
  • Sufjan Stevens – piano on "Racing Like a Pro" and "Ada"
  • Jeb Wallace – French horn


  1. ^ "en-us > Main Body Tabbed". Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  2. ^ Katie Hasty, "Maroon 5 Nudges Linkin Park From Atop Billboard 200",, May 30, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Cheng, Cheryl. "Interview: Matt Berninger of The National". Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  4. ^ "The National's Berninger Talks Boxer, Baseball, CYHSY". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2009-01-13. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  5. ^ "The National Are the Subject of a New Podcast". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  6. ^ a b "Reviews for Boxer by The National". Metacritic. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  7. ^ Phares, Heather. "Boxer – The National". AllMusic. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  8. ^ Modell, Josh (May 22, 2007). "The National: Boxer". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  9. ^ Peschek, David (May 18, 2007). "CD: The National, Boxer". The Guardian. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  10. ^ Gleeson, Sinéad (May 25, 2007). "The National: Boxer (Beggar's Banquet)". The Irish Times. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "The National: Boxer". Mojo (163): 100. June 2007.
  12. ^ Pattison, Louis (May 23, 2007). "The National: Boxer". NME. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  13. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (May 21, 2007). "The National: Boxer". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (May 14, 2007). "Boxer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  15. ^ Newlin, Jimmy (May 18, 2007). "The National: Boxer". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  16. ^ Hunter, James (June 2007). "Ugly Beauty". Spin. 23 (6): 94. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  17. ^ No byline (December 11, 2007). "The 100 Best Songs of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  18. ^ Pitchfork Media - Top 50 Albums of 2007 Archived 2007-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Stylus Staff (31 October 2007). "Top 50 Albums of 2007". Stylus. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  20. ^ Stylus Staff (31 October 2007). "Top 50 Songs of 2007". Stylus. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  21. ^ - The 97 Best of 2007 Archived February 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 150-101". Pitchfork. 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  23. ^ "Decade :: The National, Boxer (2007)". Aquarium Drunkard. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  24. ^ Hughes, Ken. "The 50 Best Albums of the Decade (2000-2009) :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste". Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  25. ^ "The best albums of the decade (2000-09)". The Pop Cop. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
  26. ^ Includes "29 years" from the National's debut album

External links[edit]