Though already a staple of brooding indie rock and alternative music in general, The National are going to be one of those bands that follow you years down the road, regardless of their continuation of putting out new records. Fact of the matter is, time after time they have doled out albums whose entirety have wowed audiences, as they are filled to the brim with tracks that speak on a deeper emotional level while also rocking out pretty hard at points. If you haven’t figured it out by now, they’re sort of a big deal, and if you haven’t fallen in love with them by now Trouble Will Find Me is yet again another perfect place to start.
Around for 14 years and counting, this group of middle-aged men has found an uncanny way of speaking to you in ways you never thought they could and they keep on digging their way deeper on this sixth full length studio release. They’ve made some changes, but overall they’re still the same tight knit crew of brooders that will break your heart in some strange way that you enjoy. First up on Trouble Will Find Me is “I Should Live In Salt,” which brings you into the new sound for the band. As always, front man extraordinaire Matt Berninger croons away behind the lead vocals, but his voice has found a new vulnerability in its higher register here. Instead of his deep baritone, borderline mumbling voice, which is the norm for the band, we are introduced to this higher version of our favorite dark and cynical voice and the result is already and emotive difference. If you can believe it, The National have added yet another layer to their emotive depth, making this one of their most accessible albums.
As with any brilliant album, upon the first listen through, every song seems to be fighting for the prize of best track in your mind; every twist and turn the band takes seems to build upon something bigger. On Trouble Will Find Me, this is truth in every sense—the imagery carries through from track to track and if you’re listening closely, from their previous releases. However, it’s not just a rehashing of what they’ve already done, but a slightly different take on the dark and swirling mood that The National is famous for. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still extra dark and swirling like you like them, but at places, these dark clouds part a little to reveal a little glimmer of light. Take some lyrics from one of the most anthemic songs the band has written, “Graceless:” “Put the flowers you find in vase/if you’re dead in the morning they’ll brighten the place/don’t let ‘em die on the vines, it’s a waste.”
When I said accessible earlier, I didn’t mean easy or lazy or boring, but the very opposite. I could go through song by song here, iterating to you how excellent each one is, but Trouble Will Find Me speaks for itself. If you’ve been present in the indie world in the last few months, it’s quite possible you’ve already heard anywhere from one to five of the songs off this album without participating in any sort of illegal activity; the band has played the songs. They were confident that every song on this album is a solid, well-produced addition to their already extensive catalogue of highly emotive and outright beautiful music. They were right.
Courtesy of Austin Town Hall.