Few groups have carried the weight of the world as grandiosely as The National during their 14 years together, but the Brooklyn-based act continues to make the burden morosely beautiful.
Rich in detail and racked with Matt Berninger’s autobiographical anxieties, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ is another confessional. His heart is exposed on an immaculately cuffed sleeve, mercilessly plumbing the depths of his 42 years.
Scything and self-effacing, there’s a storied elegance to the desolation and defiance, wrapped in the familiar baritone soliloquies, effortlessly sumptuous piano melodies, and gilded orchestral flourishes.
Energised and empty, torn but always challenging, The National has made a habit of creating vivid contrasts, as they do here. The band hopefully charges forward on the driving ‘Sea Of Love’ (video below), collapses into the yearning ‘I Need My Girl’, and dramatically hangs onto the heavy piano lines of ‘Heavenfaced’.
Tracking Berninger’s tumultuous state of mind and meaning hasn’t always been easy, but his lamenting subplots make sure that tracks like the emphatic ‘Graceless’ or the despondent ‘Fireproof’ continue to become triumphant fixtures rather than forgotten footnotes.
This long into the band’s career, the narratives here – on love, on loss, etc – aren’t new, but they’re crafted with an intimacy and intensity that inspires a simple, continued devotion.
‘Trouble Will Find Me’ contains the same qualities that made 2005’s ‘Alligator’ and 2007’s ‘Boxer’ albums so vital and personal. This set of tracks will stand with their most masterful.
Words: Reef Younis
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Read Clash's feature on The National's evolving catalogue, Slow Show, here
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