Trouble Will Find Me: The National’s Simple Beauty

June 10, 2013 · Print This Article

The National’s delivers a heavy dose of familiarity with their sixth album Trouble Will Find Me. It’s unusual to encounter bands that have such levels of consistency in musical style, yet The National continues to create music in a style that doesn’t feel overused at this point. Between the slow, deep melodies of Matt Berninger’s voice and the mix of guitar and drums that accompany, it’s a familiar walk in the park, but a pleasant one at that.


But there’s something kind of different going on here.

The album exhibits that sense of confidence of a group in their second decade of existence. The sound is very controlled, sleek and often powerful in the little moments of rise and fall. In their past works, some of the arguments for the band being boring have seemed understandable on some level, but Trouble Will Find Me has some great kind of simple quality that holds the attention well.

It’s difficult to approach in a lot of ways. The lyrics are multilayered, bearing the familiar marks of Berninger’s darkness, along with questions of fame, fortune, and hope. “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” a song that deals with images of depression and perhaps suicide, delivers lines like ‘When they ask what do I see, I say bright white beautiful heaven hanging over me’ somehow come across hopeful and defiant against the crush of sadness found in other lines.

Being The National, there are going to be tracks that deal with heavy, dark tones and images. Songs like “I Should Live In Salt” and “Demons” focus on the pain of loss, though it is unclear to whom this sense of loss is directed at, whether it’s lost love or otherwise. Others like “This Is The Last Time” focus on images of unbalanced love, expertly worked into low swinging strings that leave the listener feeling listless and a sense of longing.

It often feels like Berninger is attempting to give explanations for his actions throughout the album, almost as though the album is his confessional. He admits his insecurities and fears in “Graceless”, one of the more powerful and comparatively upbeat songs of the album.

The National creates a better level of listenability with Trouble Will Find Me. Perhaps not on a level that will make fans of critics, but it does have a way of drawing the listener in, leaving you with a sense of understanding, even if it really doesn’t make sense straightaway. It’s easy on the ears, sounds pretty, and it’s a little bit complicated, just like we’re all used to with The National. – Jordan B. Frye, Contributing Editor @jordanbfrye


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