Trouble Will Find Me is not an album for sunny afternoons or friendly gatherings, but as a soundtrack to rainy nights and lonely days it’s damn near perfect.
The National return with an album that is emotionally visceral and vividly resonant. Less angry than Boxer, but also less melodic than High Violet, Trouble Will Find Me makes its own place on the band’s musical spectrum, equal parts tragic and beautiful.
The lyrics are striking yet subtle, and largely concerned with transparency and betrayal. ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ renders heart-on-sleeve tendencies concisely – “Everything I love is on the table/Everything I love is out to see” – and ‘Fireproof’ opens with the achingly poetic, “You keep a lot of secrets and I keep none/Wish I could go back and keep some.” In ‘Sea Of Love’ there’s the apologetic “Hey Jo, sorry I hurt you but/They say love is a virtue, don’t they”, and with the grandiosely morose ‘Slipped’ the gravelly, “I’m having trouble inside of my skin/I try to keep my skeletons in” leaves a deep impression, while ‘I Need My Girl’ is lovely and devastating all at once.
Part of Berninger, Dessner and co.’s gift is that while much of their music is funereal in pace and tone (‘I Should Live In Salt’), it doesn’t drag. Rather, the lyrics may tug at heartstrings, but there remains an airy buoyancy to the instrumentation that lifts the songs to a more exultant place. The shift in direction of Trouble Will Find Me may not be as immediately apparent as with High Violet, but by the time the tempered tone of closer ‘Hard To Find’ plays out, the band sound like they’re nearing an acceptance of sorts.
BY NATALE AMAT
Trouble Will Find Me is out now through 4AD/Remote Control.