The National - I Am Easy To Find (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The National

I Am Easy To Find (2019)


The National, despite what their current geography might tell you, will always be a Midwestern band. While the narratives of their songs have been inspired by Brooklyn, and countless other places they’ve been on tour. Those narratives have always been delivered in a way that is decidedly Midwest. You can tell these guys had to find a way to pass the time between Afghan Whigs shows in Cincinnati one weekend and a Brainiac or Guided by Voices show in Dayton a few weeks later. To anyone who isn’t from southwestern Ohio, it seems boring as hell here. If you’re from here, you learn to find the beauty in the details of what other people would call mundane. On I Am Easy to Find, The National show they’ve mastered the art of noticing the details and applied it not only to their lyrics but their song structure as well.

Two things have always anchored The National’s sound, the powerful subtlety of Byran Devendorf’s drums and Matt Berninger’s baritone. While both a present here, a who’s who of female vocalists and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus also make vocal contributions to this album. Those contributions almost always add a new shading or nuance to the already familiar The National have brought us over a career that is now nearing its second decade. The two instances where this is especially successful, is on “The Pull of You” where Lisa Hannigan and Sharon Van Etten team up for vocal duties and on “You Had Your Soul with You” where longtime Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey and Berninger sing one of the more perfectly executed duets of the year.

Musically, you’re going to get exactly what you expect here. While the band is by no means repeating themselves, they’re also unlikely to change the mind of anyone who didn’t like them previously. The melodies are beautifully subtle, and benefit from the guitars and keyboards blending better on this album than perhaps any before it. And brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf are their providing one of the most solid rhythm sections in contemporary rock music.

This band will always have its detractors, the biggest criticism is generally that their music is boring. Which I guess I can see, it’s not loud, fast, and in your face. It’s not the music you listen to on the way to the punk show on a Friday night. It’s the music you listen to after the punk show on a Friday night. It’s the music you throw on while porch drinking with your friends on a Saturday night. They’re never going to knock you down with their raw power. But, like the Midwestern cities of southwestern Ohio that birthed them … you’ll find a lot of beauty if you stick around long enough.