There's definitely a dark side to the National's music, but there's also a sense of humor at work here. The group's dark, slightly Southern Gothic-style tales of the average man-gone-amok hit you hard at first with their honesty and directness. Keep listening and you'll hear the slight smirks here and there. Soon, the caricatures will reveal themselves to be much richer than you first realized. Raised on a steady diet of Morrissey, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, the New York-via-Ohio group runs rampant in the realm of literary pop music, creating bleak but smart cautionary tales that burn their way into your subconscious.