On the morning that Trouble Will Find Me was released, I was listening to it as my vehicle blasted through heavy rainfall, a dark purple cloud hanging over the road upon which I was driving. I couldn’t think of a more perfect setting to listen to an album like this. As most of you may know, The National aren’t necessarily flag wavers of the Sunshine Brigade. With a front man like Matt Berninger, whose deep vocals crack with longing over pounding drums, soaring strings, and brooding guitars, The National has become the face of sorrow in a way that The Cure has come to represent legions of lovesick teens with makeup and unkempt hair. However, The National has meticulously built up an image that reflects the sorrow of the middle-aged, people who are coming down from fast living and trying to build a more meaningful way of life (and love) from the ashes. It’s not all doom and gloom for The National; it’s about forging a new outlook from the old.
It took a while for The National to take flight, but it was around the time when they released The Boxer that more listeners, including myself, began to notice their potential. High Violet was their previous release, and even though it was a profoundly bleak record (with lyrics such as “I’m a confident liar/I’ll have my head in the oven so you know where I’ll be” and “You and you sister live in a lemon world/I want to sit in and die”), the arrangements were so beautiful and epic that you couldn’t resist hitting the replay button. Fortunately, Berninger recognizes the danger of overkill and eases back with Trouble Will Find Me, all the while delivering standout songs that sound like a continuation of High Violet.
Things get off to an exciting start with I Should Live in Salt and Demons, which build on quiet, acoustic soundscapes before bringing in the drums and infectious guitar riffs, instruments that always fit Berninger’s vocals like a glove. The morose overtones ever present in The National’s music crop up prominently on tracks like I Need My Girl and Graceless, but they aren’t lengthy excursions into darkness or as intimidating as the arrangements contained in High Violet. Trouble Will Find Me takes you on an emotional journey without smothering you. If there’s one thing that can be said about The National, it’s that they know when to call it a night and end things on a high note.
In this writer’s opinion, Trouble Will Find Me is the perfect album to listen to after you’ve experienced The Boxer and before you enter the barge of High Violet. It’s a nice balance of the energy that characterized the former and the heart wrenching introspection that defined the latter.
Trouble Will Find Me can be purchased on Amazon.com for a low price.