As many already know, Trouble Will Find Me is the long-awaited release from Cincinnati/New York indie darlings the National. What makes the National stand out is their unique approach to songwriting, Bryan Devendorf’s immovable percussion, the Dessners’ beautiful string compositions and, of course, Matt Berninger’s silky baritone. So what’s different with Trouble Will Find Me compared to their last three unbelievably brilliant albums? The short answer… not much.
Alligator (2005) had Berninger crooning that “all the wine is all for me” and that’s how Alligator should be remembered. As a bottle of red wine, uncorked but not shared, drunk in the midnight hours alone in the street. While 2007’s Boxer was more a stiff drink in a desolate place, perhaps shared with an ex-lover, but better taken in alone. Then, in 2010, with High Violet it seemed the band had stripped away their seedy undertones… but this, of course, was just the first impression. Repetition taught us that while High Violet may have been more accessible than the previous two, it was in no way lighter. In fact, High Violet was some cool combination of prescription pills and stolen whiskey nips. All those albums are perfect in their own strange way… so the pressure was on for the National, a perennial critical darling and this blogger’s favorite band of all time.
So what will Trouble Will Find Me offer the band’s already stellar discography (including the Virginia EP, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, their self-titledand the astounding Cherry Tree EP)? Well… a lot. An awful lot. And, surprisingly, not a lot of awful.
Trouble Will Find Me is an expensive glass of white wine at a black-tie soiree. Unlike its predecessors, this new album feels like its meant to be shared with others. Berninger’s lyrics have taken a turn - not one for the worse, nor for the better - Berninger seems less disposed at hinting to the people and places around him, and more inclined to delving into his own artistic past. The final lines of the album ring out from Berninger’s lips, but they are not his own words, calling upon the angst-ridden Gordon Gano he repeats “and they can all just kiss off into the air,” but unlike Gano’s teenage rantings about parents and masturbation, you get the feeling that Berninger might be inferring something that carries a little more weight. Either way, Trouble Will Find Me presents itself as the fourth straight masterpiece from a band that never ceases to bring me to tears.