When the National's fourth album, Boxer, was released last spring, the quintet hit the small-rock-club circuit, leading them to the creaky old 400 Bar. The disc has won them many new fans, which means they're at the eerily sterile Fine Line this time aroundan upgrade in cleanliness but a downgrade in dirty rock ambience. The best songs off their previous recordthe majestically drunk "Lit Up," the passionately determined "Mr. November"came hard and fast; Boxer, in contrast, is an exercise in restraint and subtlety. This record finds lyricist and singer Matt Berninger in a presumably healthier relationship, but it's no less mesmerizing. The blurred edges of this sound treat his more wistful moments with the respect they deserve, and watching the band pull this off livewhile periodically switching instrumentsis nothing short of incredible. Seeing Berninger croon, "You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you," before a hushed, sold-out crowd is something you won't want to miss. Catch the band now, before they graduate to the Pantages and lose the intimate darkness entirely. Singer/guitar prodigy St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark) opens. 18+.
Thu., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.