Wonderful though it is that the glories of post-punk are celebrated so much in today's music, modern day exponents tend to get the intensity and glumness right but often forget the emotive content of the very finest bands from this era. New York's The National seem more experienced in these matters and their third album - both lyrically and sonically - wears some of the most convincing emotional scars ever committed to 21st Century rock. Master of this particular domain is Matt Berninger, a frontman who is prepared to share his anxieties with us whilst delivering his lines in a manner that suggests Tindersticks' Stuart Staples if he had been reared on Ian Curtis rather than Lee Hazelwood. 'Alligator' is an intense record but one which is held back, restrained and only let loose on the full throttle punk of 'Abel'. Elsewhere it's self-pity and adult embarassment given voice by doeful, sad songs ('Secret Meeting', 'Karen' and the sickly hypnotic 'Friend Of Mine' amongst the best of them) that are as beautifully delivered as they are grimly believable. Youthful exuberance is one thing but mature songwriting is ultimately more enduring.