I recently bought a new album, Boxer, by The National. I thought about it for a long time--I acquired their song "Fake Empire" awhile back, and then Chuck used it once this season (along with Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," which is another story altogether, and a perfect confluence of totally different but totally complementary songs), and I found myself listening to it all the time. I decided a mental monopoly was worth $9.99, and bought the album.
First of all, I think I've figured out why I love "Fake Empire" so much. It starts out with this line: "stay out super-late tonight, picking apples, making pies." And, you see, it is exactly the kind of music I would like to listen to as I stay up super-late, picking apples*, making pies. Family and friends will tell you that I am not a late-night anything, and that is mostly true, except: I am a late-night baker. There's something hugely relaxing and hugely satisfying about mixing up some sweets after bedtime (and eating them warm, whatever they are, immediately prior to falling into bed). For this weird ritual, only the best music will do: the most singable, the most groovable, the most a part of me. This album is midnight baking music already. See how cool that is? It's like a little onomatopoeia of life.
Second, I once had a conversation with a friend about the absence of non-tenor pop stars. He was right: the lower registers get the shaft in the pop recording world. Which is why I love The National's frontman's voice: he's a deep, deep baritone, and it's always simultaneously surprising and strangely comforting. I feel like I will listen to this album next time I'm feeling sad, or when I'm trying to sleep in an unfamiliar place. It's a nice feeling, having it even when I'm happy at home, just in case.
You can watch The National on Youtube ("Fake Empire," "Apartment Story," etc.), but I almost think it's better if you can't see them. Turn the videos on, then turn around or something. Then stay up and make a pie, just because.
*Why one would stay up super-late picking apples is unclear--wouldn't they be hard to see?--but I'm going to just go with it.