Release Date: May 21, 2013
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
So much about the National's sixth album feels inevitable. Its predecessor, High Violet, sealed their shift to the mainstream; the songs on Trouble Will Find Me have expanded accordingly, reaching across the festival field with bland lyrics and predictable key shifts and melodic progressions contrived to bludgeon the emotions. What hollow music this would be in lesser hands.
Birthed from Cincinnati college jam sessions and an old band named after vocalist Matt Berninger's mom (Nancy), The National proper came together in Brooklyn in 1999 and have released a string of increasingly critically acclaimed albums and EPs. Trouble WIll Find Me, their sixth full length, finds the band less tightly-wound in the rhythm department than on its predecessors, becoming increasingly chill yet somehow building to bigger, more anthemic choruses. This album may be their best to date (time will tell), as they have found the perfect way to grow and polish their sound on each album while keeping their overall sonic keystones intact.Personally, I didn't discover The National until Boxer.
Review Summary: Dim the lights.After twelve or so years of The National’s existence, we’ve finally reached the point where the first paragraph of every review should be dedicated to drummer Bryan Devendorf. Even after the gradual softening of the band’s music over the last three albums, he is still capable of transporting songs to different realms, using his snare drum as a portal through which yet more beautiful plateaus stretch. Trouble Will Find Me gives him fewer chances to do so, but that only makes it all the more exciting when it happens, when he tears in half the many layers of The National’s music and redefines what we thought we were hearing.
Trouble Will Find Me may be The National’s funniest album to date. Not that it has a whole lot of competition. The bookish Brooklynites don’t typically drop punchlines, although Matt Berninger has snuck a few sharp absurdities into his lyrics (“I’m a perfect piece of ass, like every Californian.”) On the band’s sixth album, however, he actually foregrounds the humor, which makes it a welcome change from the dead-serious and gravely orchestrated High Violet.
Confidence. Comfort in one’s own skin. It’s the difference between trying too hard and coming off as a fraud or following your own heart and rising to the top. Many a band waffles after success, making, instead, what they think the audience wants to hear. But with Trouble Will Find Me, The ….
By this time, you pretty much know what you're going to get with a new album from The National. Lots of sad lyrics, dark humor, shimmering guitars, pensive strings, and a sneakily good rhythm section that ends up being the heartbeat of the whole affair..
The NationalTrouble Will Find Me[4AD; 2013]By Brendan Frank; May 20, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGIf there’s one thing you can’t fault the National for lacking, it’s an identity. Across six albums they have seen magnificent progress, artfully transitioning from booze-soaked barroom Americana to majestic, stadium-sized indie rock. The threads that have run through them all, underscored by the gloomy, ever-recognizable baritone of singer Matt Berninger, the lithe guitar work of the Dessner brothers and Bryan Devendorf’s imposing skill behind the drum kit, are thicker than ever on Trouble Will Find Me.
Most people attribute the National’s escalating popularity to their reliability: They write songs about existential dread and the real pressures that result when others are depending on you to have your shit together. And while that steadiness is certainly important, it gives short shrift to how the Brooklyn-via-Cincinnati band’s career fulfills a fantasy. Though their self-titled 2001 debut is all but written out of their history, every National album since has been more ambitious, accomplished, and successful than the one that came before it.
The sixth album from Brooklyn’s The National sees them continue an impressive run of form which has left them seemingly on the verge of mainstream success. While previous album High Violet felt like an, at times, slightly tempered conciliation of past glories, Trouble Will Find Me manages to pull off the impressive trick of finding the band at once at their most direct and musically inventive. For those not acquainted with their brand of heart-swelling, roof-raising indie rock, the opening track tells you much of what you need to know.
“When I walk into a room, I do not light it up. FUCK”. That’s Matt Berninger, The National’s lead singer, either mocking his reputation as spokesperson for the dark reality of modern life or, as he puts it on ‘Trouble Will Find Me’’s lead single ‘Demons’, going through another “awkward phase”. After five albums of angst, heartbreak and social inadequacy, The National are no closer to finding peace.It’s understandable, given that 2010’s ‘High Violet’ launched them far away from cult heroes and closer to a band with arena-filling potential, that an uneasy sense of expectation runs through their sixth album.
Few groups make mournful music sound so life-affirming as Brooklyn quintet the National. Six albums down the line, the late developers have perfected their ruminative rock, the beauty of their intricate arrangements ensuring the end product never sounds pedestrian. This Is the Last Time is particularly good, its grinding riff recalling a baroque Arcade Fire, though singer Matt Berninger's introspective lyrics ("I'm having trouble inside of my skin") imply he is too timid to front a stadium band.
The NationalTrouble Will Find Me(4AD)Rating: 4 stars The National slowly made their ascension to the indie rock elite through their first four albums, until the recognition for 2010’s High Violet finally caught up with the high quality of music the band had been releasing for years. As such, the follow-up is on everybody’s radar, and while that’s generally a positive development, it also means that the poison pens are poised if people don’t like what they hear. It’s a good thing then that The National seem like the kind of guys who can care less about either past success or the expectations of others.
It's a paradox of criticism: bands will either get flak for staying sonically stagnant or ripped apart for losing the signature qualities fans first admired. The National, however, have managed to perfect sounding like themselves while putting out consistently impressive and forward-marching music. Trouble Will Find Me is no different. Following 2010's massively successful High Violet, the new record reins it in and tones down the arena-ready rock with songs that are immediately recognizable as the National, but never come across as generic or insincere.
THE NATIONAL play Yonge-Dundas Square as part of NXNE on June 14. See listing. Rating: NNNN The National are notorious for their melodrama, but that relatable combination of hope and devastation is what's made them accessible to droves of fans. Their latest record - their sixth in 14 years - is reminiscent of 2007's Boxer, where Matt Berninger crooned about lost friendships, mortality, stalking an old love, heartbreak - the usual fodder of a band that's been dubbed "sleepy miserabilists." That emotional intensity still looms, but Berninger seems at peace with it.
Matt Berninger is a man who wrestles with his demons and soaks his tales of defeat, loss, and inadequacy in a sea of wine. On past efforts by The National – most notably 2005’s Alligator – Berninger’s pocket poems have been carried on spindly, spiny legs of brash noise and swirling orchestration prodded along by the simple machine-gun accuracy of Bryan Deffendorf’s drumming. In the past, he’s allowed himself to come unhinged.
This is the sound of despair, according to singer Matt Berninger of the National: "If you want to make me cry," he claims early on this record, in "Don't Swallow the Cap," "play Let It Be or Nevermind. " It is a surprising admission, given the Brooklyn band's established anguish on albums like 2007's Boxer and the 2010 bestseller, High Violet: a chaos of broken affections and mortal fears drawn with spare rhythmic and melodic flourishes, often in wide, open reverb. On much of Trouble Will Find Me as well, the terse phrases and single-tone exclamations of guitarists Bryce and Aaron Dessner hang around Berninger's baritone gravity like clouded starlight.
That distant mooing and hint of beef in the air heralds the coming of indie rock’s latest sacred cows. After years of slog, The National are currently enjoying the type of reverence previously bestowed upon the holy and sacrosanct Arcade Fire (what’s known in the trade as 'beatification by Pitchfork'), and sharing a spell of 'good-on-them' respect with the likes of Elbow that only ascension through hard work and consistency can bring. They’re a good band, made good - and in these cynical times of reality TV flash-in-the-pans and viral video smashes that’s always an attractive position to the muso mindset.
A YouTube search for ”Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” the towering closing track from the National’s critically adored 2010 album, High Violet, yields a clip of the song being played over a continuous shot of waves gently crashing on a beach. It’s an apt metaphor; the Brooklyn quintet are all lovely tranquility on the surface, masking the churn roiling underneath. In the past, their best moments found them cranking out jangly slabs of dynamism like the Obama-adopted anthem ”Mr.
The National have occupied an enviable place in the music world for close to a decade now. All of their albums since 2005’s Alligator (and arguably Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers two years earlier) have been greeted with overwhelming critical praise, the brothers Dessner consistently praised for their strong arrangements and writing songs that find a way to be happy and sad at the same time, while vocalist Matt Berninger’s baritone is among the most distinct since Leonard Cohen’s, and one can read far into his abstract lyrics and subjective, past-tense narratives. Those descriptors could describe any of their past few albums, and Trouble Will Find Me is no exception, both the album’s great strength and biggest weakness.
“I pull off your jeans and you spill Jack and coke in my collar”– “Baby We’ll Be Fine,” Alligator (2005) “You could have been a legend/ But you became a father”– “Slipping Husband,” Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003) “I run up to the rainbow, girl/ Just to pass it by”– “29 Years,” The National (2001) Such instances of promise and intent arrive indiscriminately crumpled by fate and character throughout The National’s back catalog. Cast out in a number of alternate scenarios and across frequently hapless settings, the outcome of each event remains connected by the humbled tone of our narrator, Matt Berninger, who has been writing the band’s lyrical content for the past 14 years. Over the course of previous LPs, Berninger’s demeanor has remained predominantly dry and somber, despite the band’s persistent increase in acclaim with each new release.
The National is one of the rare indie bands that has grown more respected and beloved the bigger it has gotten, as if the true measure of integrity and cred wasn’t what you did to make it, but rather what you’ve done after you’ve arrived. And that’s for good reason: Whether you’re talking specifically about the music industry or generally about any walk of life, the National has done things the right way, working hard enough to cause a sweat while on the way up, earning its promotion to the big leagues after actually deserving it, then staying on top by sticking to its founding principles. Indeed, it’s not a little ironic that a band that made a name for itself through uncanny sketches of characters losing their grip on the American Dream has come to embody that myth for music fans, going from unhip journeymen to the President’s opening act.
Upon first spin, Trouble Will Find Me, the warm, wistful, and weary sixth long-player from the National, sounds a lot like 2010's warm, wistful, and weary High Violet, but where the former was built on a foundation of suburban despondency and casual, middle class self-destruction (and skillfully juggled melodrama and dark comedy), the latter feels mired in regret, seeking refuge in the arms of old friends and lost lovers, sounding for all the world like a single cube of ice lazily swirling about a recently drained tumbler of single malt scotch, a notion best intoned on early album standout "Demons," which casually announces "I am secretly in love with everyone I grew up with. " Like nausea, nostalgia can arrive in waves, and Trouble Will Find Me's best moments -- the propulsive "Don't Swallow the Cap" and the one-two sucker punch of pre-set closers "Humiliation" and "Pink Rabbits" -- find Matt Berninger and his laconic baritone nervously pacing the deck of a sinking ship while simultaneously trying to find his sea legs as his bandmates constantly pull the rug out from under him with familiar rhythms and melodies that hide countless trap doors. However, it's that very familiarity that fuels the ire of many of the band's detractors, especially those who consider them to be a slightly creepier, American Coldplay, and while there is definitely an intangible, Mad Men-esque sense of unease that permeates Trouble Will Find Me, one could hardly use the words dangerous or forward-thinking when dissecting its myriad parts.
Remote and reserved, the National has never been a crowd-pleaser, with an aesthetic favoring prickly lyricism and unadorned musicianship, the flashiness and hooks kept to a bare minimum. Yet despite these reticent qualities, the group has always been accessible, their stoicism belying a low-key, neurotic charm, anchored by the quiet bluster of frontman Matt Berninger's lyrics, which explore disillusionment and self-doubt with consistently wry flatness. However, even with their brushes with mainstream success, the band seems increasingly intent on guarding their mystique rather than developing it, issuing another aloof album that will likely further narrow their appeal.
On “Graceless” the story finds a faithless and tasteless narrator that realizes while the beauty surrounds him, his true Grace comes in the form of a lover. The beauty of The National was always their manipulation and execution of imagery and here, the words of flowers dying inside of a vase and noticing that life is happening and equally, dying, through the glass depicts what life truly is. And with this view point on life, the band decorates the songs with an even-keel demeanor – never unassuming and always at the forefront – Berninger’s voice is key to their success.
On Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, Matt Berninger said that “if she knows you're paper, she'll know she has to burn you.” His lyrics are filled with sentiments that can't be ascribed to Berninger himself, yet, in light of how The National has progressed over the last decade, this line feels distinctly personal. It neatly expresses the deep insecurity that comes with showing someone what kind of person you are. Throughout their early output, The National seemingly struggled to play the exact music that they wanted to play, caught up in a balance of expectations, aspirations, and creative tendencies.
Next month the National will be headlining the Barclays Center, an 18,000 cap. arena in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, current home to an NBA team and walking distance from each of the band members’ abodes (though drummer Bryan Devendorf recently moved back to Cincinnati). It’s the type of “hell yeah!” hometown triumph moment that’s rarer than ever these days, the result of a steadily growing fan base and a grueling tour schedule more akin to that of a jamband than a group of seemingly well-adjusted husbands living in Brooklyn’s leafy parts.
In 2010 The National went for broke with High Violet, and in the face of improbably high expectation, they pulled it off. The album - their fifth - took an exhausting two years to complete ("We fight over everything", explained guitarist Aaron Dessner in an interview with The Guardian), but by furnishing their songs with less streamlined, texturally dense arrangements, it thrust the Brooklyn-based quintet way up festival bills and end-of-year lists without sacrificing any of the weary, bruised romanticism that made them such a special prospect in the first place. A 22-month world tour followed, which you imagine would have felt like an extended victory lap for the band, who had spent a decade gamely shaking off comparisons with their peers and gradually accumulating enough goodwill to be recognised purely on their own terms.
For someone whose voice could be described as a comatose croon, Matt Berninger is an astonishingly expressive singer. As the frontman and songwriter for the National, he conveys a lot of emotion in his laconic delivery, which creates a nervous tension in the music. “Trouble Will Find Me” is the Brooklyn, N.Y., indie-rock band’s sixth and most deft album yet, a haunted and lugubrious meditation on loss and despair.
It’s testament to The National that during an exhibition in Long Island City recently they played the song ‘Sorrow’ for six hours straight and people turned out. Not only that: many stayed for the whole thing.Because listening to The National doesn’t equate to selecting a handful of songs or middling around in the sound of the New Yorkers’ misery for four solid minutes. It’s about hearing the band capture a feeling, one that can last for however long the listener requires.In part an extension of their museum performance, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ feels like a victory lap.
No one beats themselves up as beautifully as Matt Berninger. The National frontman's sinking baritone, which drowns conflicted angst like last call, defines the Brooklyn quintet, and yet their sixth album manages to avoid the usual shelf life of self-loathing that comes with maturity – of audiences as well as bands. Trouble subdues against the power of 2010's High Violet, but also spikes Berninger's typically cryptic lyrics with a self-aware levity, continually deflating the seriousness of emotion without dissolving any of the dramatic affect.
When The National took their first stumbled steps towards greater notoriety on their 2003 album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, it was as a band whose songs featured characters struggling through the darker side of domestic bliss. Whether that be the alcohol-addled crux of ‘Slipping Husband’ or the marital meanderers of ‘Trophy Wife’, the group’s frontman – and dominant lyricist – Matt Berninger has always strove to peep behind suburbia’s blackout curtains. Flash-forward to Trouble Will Find Me, the Cincinnati quintet’s sixth, and most streamlined, record to date and they still appear to be fronting many of the same issues.
A few weeks ago, the National played a concert at the MoMa PS1 in Long Island City, New York. The show was part of an original art project put together by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who sought to examine “the potential of repetitive performance to produce sculptural presence within sound”—or, to put it more bluntly, to see what would happen if the most sorrowful band in America performed a sorrowful song entitled “Sorrow,” and only “Sorrow,” in a sparse, sorrowful room for six sorrowful hours. Circling around and around like an aural ouroboros, never once stopping to pause, the Brooklyn band played the 2010 High Violet tune about 100 times, all before a rapt crowd of fans willing to pay $15 just to get in the door.
Serenity isn’t all that serene for the National on the band’s sixth album, “Trouble Will Find Me” (4AD). It’s the plushest, most burnished album from a New York City band that has increasingly leaned toward the measured and stately. This time, the National utterly refuses to buttonhole listeners; the music calmly awaits attention, but amply repays it.
Here's some important background information for anyone considering the sixth album from Brooklyn-based masters of rock 'n' roll despair the National: "I am not," singer Matt Berninger declares late in the album, on "Graceless," "my rosy self." Longtime fans may appreciate the sarcasm, as the National's music has never exactly dwelled on the bright side, but Berninger sure isn't kidding. "Trouble Will Find Me" is a difficult 55-minute listen into the lives of characters who are once again on the brink. This is a modal window.