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The National - Trouble Will Find Me (Cover Artwork)

The National

The National: Trouble Will Find MeTrouble Will Find Me (2013)
4AD

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
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Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
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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 t.
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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. They hit a sweet spot with a more unique sound on their third album Alligator in 2005, so when Boxer was about to drop in 2007, the anticipation from indie-focused sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum was palpable. I was convinced to look into it. What I liked the most was the special way they combined chill melodies, guitars and keys with more aggressive post-punk bass and drums. It was at once relaxed and jittery-I'd never heard a band do that before. But it wasn't until 2010's High Violet that they really blew my lid. Drummer Bryan Devendorf was especially instrumental in convincing me of their greatness, because his explosive yet controlled beats on the album really took these swelling guitars and pianos, as well as Berninger's baritone croons, cruising right over the cliff to a gnarly explosion on the rocks below. A good explosion-an explosion of sound-ya dig?

A perfect example of this is "Graceless," a song that could be a ballad if Bryan wasn't so obsessed with Joy Division and their drum-machine yet-human-powered patterns of snare fills, tom hits and quick hihat runs. He single-handedly (well, with both hands, and both feet) propels the song to its apex with Berninger in his trademark low wail, also recalling Joy Division and their iconic departed frontman Ian Curtis.

First single "Don't Swallow the Cap" references some classic universally-loved albums, "And if you want / To see me cry / Play "Let It Be" / Or 'Nevermind'" as well as killer quoteable lines like "I have faith but don't believe you / This love ain't enough to leave you ". "I Need My Girl" is another favorite, though it doesn't have much in the way of those killer drums, just a slow build of booming percussion; what makes it is the finger-picked electric and Berninger's lyrics, throwing at you some lines you never thought you'd hear sung in such a chill setting: "Remember when you lost your shit / Drove the car into the garden" and "I'll try to call you / From the party / It's full of punks and cannonballers". He is revealing himself to be one of the greatest lyricists of modern indie rock. "Fireproof" follows a similar route as "I Need My Girl," with simple shakers pushing the song along for most of its duration, and cool guitar hammer-ons and low-end synth swells.

There are some new twists to the band's sound that most people won't even notice they're so subtle and well-done. Opener "I Should Live in Salt" features a 9/4 chord progression that never feels unnatural. Near the album's end, "Pink Rabbits" winds down with a midtempo piano groove and ambient guitar feedback wails, something they should experiment with more. "You said it would be painless / It wasn't that at all." is a key line from the track. "Sea of Love" rocks right off the bat, something they usually hesitate to do, tending to build songs up gradually. Buzzy bass breaks it down in parts, but it just keeps comin' back up. Another addition is the many more instances of backing vocals, especially big sung/shout gang parts, which is a nice addition to a group focused so intensely on that one unique voice.

You can tell that The National hit a fruitful songwriting stride writing this album. It's 13 tracks and damn near an hour, and you won't regret a minute of what they included here. There is a fantastic flow from upbeat, crescendoing rockers to gentle yet looming ballads. 2013's been a great year for indie rock and Trouble Will Find Me is bound to end up near the top of heap for me.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
blackpowerballad (June 18, 2013)

For the love of god please don't use the word "chill" as an adjective.

missmydog (June 3, 2013)

I haven't had a chance to listen to the newest album yet, however I would urge the more "punk" oriented people to check out Boxer first.

I also did not appreciate this band properly until I watched them perform live.

I loved their show and fell in love with their music and style.

greg0rb (June 1, 2013)

Ok, I normally don't respond to silliness such as this, but "generic rock"?!! You must listen to a pretty goddamn high level of "rock" music to define that as "generic rock." I'd say it's so gentle it's barely even "rock" at all, whatever that means. It's the drums that rock. Anyway, this debate will likely not be intellectually rewarding so I'll just stop now.

stillanonymous (June 1, 2013)

Wow is this bad. Every song is just some guy mumbling over a generic rock track. What's wrong with you people?

mcflynnthm (May 31, 2013)

I think Boxer will always be my favorite from this band, but damn if I don't love this album. Great record.

sleepwalker (May 30, 2013)

Wow. Ok...well, to be fair, I have not heard this album yet, but the last two were just so boring. I want to give this a listen though, simply to figure out what y'all are hearing that I am not.

jvoland (May 30, 2013)

Yet another near perfect album under their belts.

greg0rb (May 28, 2013)

@davebrave :'(

hahaha

tenwestchaser (May 28, 2013)

I've not heard of this band in any way shape or form until last week. Now I just keep seeing them every where and everyone seems to be talking about them. Fucking weird.

Magnetbox (May 28, 2013)

I haven't listened to it, but I'm guessing this is as dull and lifeless as their other albums.

Johnny_J (May 28, 2013)

Amazing album. Maybe album of the decade so far.

inspection12e (May 28, 2013)

this is better than High Violet.

davebrave4 (May 28, 2013)

When do I complain about bands not being punk enough for Punknews? In fact just last week I was saying on the Wu-Tang article that reasonable people can find a reason to consider just about anything not punk, and that as someone with pretty eclectic tastes I'd rather hear what the people here have to say about a band than hear them argue about whether it is or isn't punk.

I mean, fuck you gregorb; this shit ain't punk.

MN_DrNick (May 28, 2013)

In before that Dave The Brave comes in here saying this shouldn't be reviewed on a punk site.

calvinrhodes1 (May 28, 2013)

I love this album more and more each time I listen to it. It might end up being my favorite National album.

conebone69 (May 28, 2013)

My only gripe about this band is that they need more up-tempo tracks.

Too often it feels like one song will blend into another.

devianter (May 28, 2013)

not my genre. i know i know, we can't have punk only. and i appreciate all genres. but this is.. i don't know. my girlfriend could cry to this music

nra4ever (May 28, 2013)

I can't stop listening to this album. This band is so consistent.

danwazz (May 28, 2013)

An amazing album front to back.

kidgotham (May 28, 2013)

AOTY material. This band can do no wrong.

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