Trouble Will Find Me
Across The National’s sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, frontman Matt Berninger sings about feeling lonely, feeling complacent, missing his lover, getting high, and numerous other upper-class woes. In less capable hands, these complaints would land as angsty and self-centered, yet throughout their career The National have proved they can craft these emotions into magnificent and complex rock symphonies. Trouble Will Find Me acts as the culmination of an already stellar career, taking intense feelings of melancholy and dread and molding them into an incredibly moving, cohesive artistic statement.
On most tracks, Berninger’s tales of addiction and lost love drift over expansive and ambient arrangements, a development from the more straightforward guitar rock of earlier records. The epic rockers are still there (“Sea of Love,” “Graceless”), but they are now tempered by the album’s brooding focus on mid-tempo reflections like the highlights “Heavenfaced,” “This Is the Last Time,” and “Humiliation.” Berninger also brings a new emotional presence to these tracks, sometimes pulling his signature baritone into higher registers, causing his voice to waver and crack under the pressure (used with devastating effect on closer “Hard to Find”).
But the sound rarely changes. The National have made a career out of these thematic concerns, and it is hard to blame them for refining their craft. Trouble’s only fault is that it is possibly the most archetypal National record, and never really departs from their signature sound. Instead, the exploration is internal, perfecting every small detail to make Trouble the most National sounding National record. And it seems funny that; as the characters in National songs are increasingly mired in instability, slipping back and forth into love, addiction, and melancholy; the band’s sound has been stable. Misery loves company, and The National have become the best at providing it.
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