While I was only in New York very briefly, I’ve always found it to be a city full of emotions. I’ve never lived there, only visited, but every I hear an Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol or Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea by PJ Harvey, I’m immediately dumped right in the heart of the Big Apple. That nostalgia has ended with those albums, but a band that constantly gives me those emotions are The National. With the baritone vocals, the Leonard Cohen delivery of lyrics, and the hypnotic instrumentation, Trouble Will Find Me has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2013. After a three year gap since their critically acclaimed High Violet, the band has released their best album yet.
Trouble Will Find Me opens with a slow-cooker, “I Should Live In Salt”. The logical progression in their music makes sense, considering the change in sound from Alligator to Boxer comes in chronological order. As their sixth album to date, Matt Berninger is getting up there quickly in age. At 42, he sounds better than ever though and it shows quickly in the opener. He hits his falsettos perfectly, striking an intense emotional chord. Following this track is a slew of quick, hard hitting songs like the single, “Demons”, and “Don’t Swallow The Cap”. Both of those tracks have the perfect sound for a radio single, and it makes sense that “Demons” was hitting the airwaves as soon as it was legally possible. Together they show the skill of the bands harmonies and synchronicity. The instrumentation, especially on my personal favourite song, “Sea Of Love”, is the most complex and simple at the same time. To many listeners, it could be taken as repetitive, but it’s depth can stretch until the next National album is released. It only makes sense, because guitarist, Bryce Dessner, has a masters from Yale in classical guitar.
Like I mentioned, “Sea Of Love”, has that intense National sound that previous tracks like, “Mr. November”, off of Alligator, and the master hit, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, off of High Violet, have. The continuous snare smashes are borderline punk-like that blend perfectly with the two guitars that carry the song. What really puts this song over the edge is Berninger’s vocals. The way he connects with the listener is pure talent. Lyrically, the song is outstanding, “Hey Joe sorry I hurt you but / They say love is a virtue / Don’t they?”, with Berninger playing the roles of the multiple characters throughout the course of this 55 minute monster album.
Like past releases, The National always include a few slower tracks. Here, these slower tracks feel even softer and dynamically contrast the main sound of the album, but fit perfectly thematically. “Fireproof”, “Heavenfaced”, and “I Need My Girl”, are the three ballads that stand out on Trouble Will Find Me. The tempo is pretty quick, but there’s nothing that rivals the few hidden drum patterns and lone piano notes. It’s truly beautiful, especially “I Need My Girl”, which oddly sounds like “Kreuzberg” by Bloc Party. Although it’s been played for a few years here and there, having it on a studio track brings out the subtly on this amazing track.
Even the second last song, “Pink Rabbits”, rivals for my favourite track. Actually fuck it, almost all songs do here, but “Sea Of Love”, and the one I mentioned really have been standing out since I was able to get my rounds on this album. What I’ve noticed is how the band as a whole clicks on every track. I would say it’s their most accessible, but like I’ve said, their most complex at the same time. The dark themes of loneliness, depression, and love are so easy to relate to on this album, and are far more open compared to Boxer or even High Violet, which was the first time The National wasn’t using cryptic lyrics for personal events. They show their true colours on this album.
I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of Trouble Will Find Me. I mean, I love The National’s past three albums, so I had high expectations going into this newest release, but I wasn’t ready for the greatness of it. The album as a whole is unreal. The sound is relate-able, listenable, fun, passionate, and every other positive adjective in the dictionary. I’ve been disappointed with anticipated albums, and I should have had that thought in mind coming up to hearing this, but there wasn’t one bit of denial in my body. I knew Trouble Will Find Me was going to be good. I just never knew it would be THIS good.
Be sure to check out my personal favourite, “Sea Of Love”, here: