Sound — 7
The National formed in 1999 and since that time has remained active and maintained all 5 of the original members. The band includes Matt Berninger on vocals, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (twins) on guitar/keyboards and guitar, and Scott and Bryan Devendorf (brothers) on bass and drums. For the latter part of their career they have been involved in politics, supporting democratic candidates. They even have a band t-shirt with a picture of Obama taking up the majority of the design. "Trouble Will Find Me" is their sixth studio album. There are 13 tracks on the album with an approximate runtime of about 55 minutes. During a performance in December of 2012, The National performed the song "I Need My Girl" live on a radio show, which is the first time a track from this album was heard. The first single for the album is "Demons" which was released on April 8th. A few days later, the second single "Don't Swallow The Cap" was released on April 11th. A video for the song "Sea Of Love" was released on May 8th. The National definitely has their own sound, even with the evolution of their sound from album to album, but for those who haven't heard them before they could be compared to a mix of old school Radiohead and Joy Division. The album is mixed as an interesting and lush wall of sound. There is definitely a melancholy undercurrent running through most of the album. The album opens with "I Should Live In Salt," which has a warbling keyboard line running throughout that gives a kind of otherworldly vibe. It is a strong opening track, capturing the essence of the vibe of the album. On the second track and the first single from the album, "Demons," the use of tambourine, almost droning vocals and a heavily tremolo-d guitar it goes to further the dreamlike voice of the album. The track "Sea Of Love" is the track that I really get the Joy Division vibe with Matt Berninger's voice droning along to the instrumentation on the song. The track "I Need My Girl" is possibly the most melancholy song from the album and has an interesting guitar riff running throughout. The album closes out with the track "Hard To Find," which has a single tone running throughout that unfortunately starts driving me insane about 30 seconds in, but it is one of the best vocal performances on the album by Matt Berninger.
Lyrics — 7
Matt Berninger is a baritone which works very well in the context of The National. Matt uses a few different approaches throughout the album, from a slightly higher melodic singing to a deeper vocal droning type of singing. Each fit their respective songs well. On most of the songs on "Trouble Will Find Me," Matt doesn't sing quite as low as he has on most of their previous releases. I like that he changes things up a little bit, but he loses that "Nick Cave vibe" he's had on a lot of their previous releases. Overall, I can't complain the vocals do fit the songs, I just can't pretend I'm listening to the second coming of Nick Cave quite as much. The lyrics from The National are known for being mysterious and they definitely do get into the realm of being a little bit surreal with their lyrics. As an example of some of the more mysterious, here is the first verse from the first single, "Demons": "When I think of you in the city/ The sight of you among the sites/ I get this sudden sinking feeling/ Of a man about to fly/ Never kept me up before/ Now I've been awake for days/ I can't fight it anymore/ I'm going through an awkward phase/ I am secretly in love with/ Everyone that I grew up with/ Do my crying underwater/ I can't get down any farther/ All my drowning friends can see/ Now there is no running from it/ It's become the crux of me/ I wish that I could rise above it."
Overall Impression — 7
Honestly, before this album I didn't give The National the attention they deserve. There are so many indie bands out now that except for a few standout bands they begin to run together. What I didn't previously realize before is that The National is one of the few standout bands that sincerely deserves some attention. My favorites from the album are definitely "Demons" and "Sea Of Love," but there are a lot of solid tracks on the album and even better this is a good album to be listened to in its entirety. My least favorite track is "Hard To Find," and this is because there is a single tone running throughout the entire song and I just can't get over it. I would definitely recommend this album to fans of The National's previous releases or anybody who wants something just a little bit different to listen to.