Home > News & Reviews > The National

The National - Trouble Will Find Me (Album Review)

Thursday, 23 May 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

Consisting of two sets of brothers and a singer with a distinctive baritone, The National are not your normal run of the mill indie rock band; formed in 1999 in Cincinnati, Ohio, their album catalogue now reaches six - predominantly morose and dark affairs - with the release of ‘Trouble Will Find Me’.

Predecessor ‘High Violet’ attained worldwide sales of over half a million copies and enjoyed the most critical acclaim afforded to them; ‘Alligator’ and ‘Boxer’ were also well received and songs such as ‘Murder Me Rachael’ and ‘Fake Empire’ display the diverse appeal of their overall output, ranging from compelling high-octane sing-a-long status to simple yet stunning piano driven genius, propelled to magnificence by Matt Berninger’s stunning baritone vocals.

The National have been quoted as heralding the new material as ‘a fun record about death’ – if there can be such a thing – and that several unusual time signatures have been deployed; for all intents and purposes they’re very much the same band that has become a vital part of today’s music scene.

The opening salvo of ‘I Should Live In Salt’ and ‘Demons’ contains two of the albums strongest moments; both classic slow burners, the former at first sounds unmemorable and plain but upon repeated listens it reveals its grandeur.  The subtle acoustic strumming, tambourine and slow pounding drums create a dramatic soundscape adorned with tinkly synths, all the while bubbling caustically beneath the surface in an epic fashion with repeated mutterings of “you should know me better than that”.  ‘Demons’ maintains the slow burning structure, following a routine National path of morose and minimal instrumentalism, proudly displaying that unique baritone of Berninger’s as he laments “I stay down with my demons”, his voice as ever invoking comparisons to The Tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples.

Curiously titled ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ follows, lifting the tempo from the album’s doom-laden beginnings to showcase Bryan Devendorf’s drumming skills in a similar way to ‘Boxer’s ‘Mistaken For Strangers’.  ‘Fireproof’ is built around subtle acoustic pluckings, sounding completely different from the earlier tracks as it veers away from the dark side; ‘Sea Of Love’ contains constantly thunderous, pounding drums that drive the track alongside its “if I stay here trouble will find me” observation, before developing into a repetitive “what’d Harvard teach you?” outro.

‘Heavenfaced’ moves from its sparsely populated start into another sombre, funereal number that appears to deal with the coming to terms with the inevitability of death; the track develops into a beautiful conclusion, like a butterfly being released from the confines of its pupa cocoon.  ‘This Is The Last Time’ includes another reference to Jenny, as spotted in earlier moments – The National have a habit of mentioning particular female names as a constant theme throughout stages of their work.  Female backing vocals appear, with the focus of the story appearing to surround a relationship that’s left Berninger struggling to escape its swamp-like presence.

The more easily accessible ‘Graceless’ contains more pounding drums with the rest of the instrumentalism building into a crescendo of “there’s a science to walking through windows”; this would have been a perfect album closer as it would leave you on a high which would undoubtedly have resulted in an immediate album replay.

‘Slipped’ enables Berninger’s baritone to take centre stage again with his uniquely descriptive lyrics such as “I’m trying to keep my skeletons in” appearing above minimal music, being the perfect choice for a gig interlude to enable his companions to take a break; ‘I Need My Girl’ begins with a subtle guitar line, gently ushering the track into existence, then continuing as keyboards build in intensity with drums merely punctuating the sound.  The vocals float above again as the track proves to be another builder that threatens to implode but once again refrains from doing so.

‘Humiliation’ is cast around a swirly synth backdrop, with a more upbeat tempo drumbeat and delicate touches of guitar but ultimately fails to go anywhere; ‘Pink Rabbits’ boasts deep, reflective pain-tinged lyrics like “you said it would be painless but it wasn’t that at all”, and borders on ballad territory which is not a path The National frequently tread.  Album closer ‘Hard To Find’ is a harmonious effort, lulling the album to an almost orchestral conclusion, developing into a soothing send off.

At just under an hour the album can prove a lengthy listen with its often morose content; upon initial play, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ won’t grab you by the balls…like the vast majority of their previous work, it’s very much like a fine wine, taking time to mature and develop into something far greater than a first listen will yield.  But once you are over the initial scepticism, it soon develops into another consistently fine offering from the band – albeit lacking in some respects due to the absence of instant classics such as the aforementioned ‘Fake Empire’ – and due to the majesty of some earlier material, it is easy to overlook what’s here in a dismissive manner…just prevail and you will be rewarded.

'Trouble Will Fine Me' is available now via 4AD. The National tour the UK and Ireland in November.

The National UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Fri June 28th 2013 - CORK Live At The Marquee
Sat November 9th 2013 - BELFAST Odyssey Arena
Sun November 10th 2013 - DUBLIN O2 Arena
Mon November 11th 2013 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Tue November 12th 2013 - MANCHESTER Manchester Apollo
Wed November 13th 2013 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Thu November 14th 2013 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Click Here to Compare & Buy The National Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Tue 20 Apr 2021
The National Reschedule Limerick, Cork And Belfast Shows To June 2022
Mon 20 Jul 2020
The National's Matt Berninger Drops Solo Track Distant Axis
Thu 28 May 2020
The National Reschedule UK And European Shows To Summer 2021
Fri 15 May 2020
The National Postpone Summer 2020 Tour Dates In UK, Europe And North America
< Prev   Next >