The National have been honing their craft for years, quietly going about perfecting their melancholy and distinctive brand of indie rock. Each album has seen the band become more assured and each new offering has been greeted with increasing amounts of success. The band have become a household name after the release of their last effort ‘High Violet’, and have risen to such a level of prominence that they can command the stage at the O2 this October.
‘Trouble Will Find Me’ sees the band doing what they do best, churning out song after song of dark indie-rock classics. I Should Live In Salt is a brilliant opener, starting off slow and minimalistic before building up into a powerful chorus, with Berninger’s booming baritone crashing through the faint instrumental arrangements. Don’t Swallow The Cap features a fantastic, intense drum beat that is a regular feature of The National’s songs, and it drives the song onwards, painting the perfect backdrop for Berninger’s vocals to bloom forth. Berninger’s strange and confusing lyrics are as distinctive as his massive voice. Lines such as “I have only two emotions, careful fear and dead devotion…” are head-scratchers, but oddly insightful at the same time.
Sea Of Love picks the pace up a notch, with an excellent guitar riff that resides above a pounding drum beat. The song rushes towards an epic climax, with Berninger’s vocals taking on an earnest and urgent tone; “I see you rushing now, tell me how to reach you.” This Is The Last Time features a wonderful guitar riff, with a range of other instruments fading in and out throughout the song while Berninger sucks you in with the depth and power of his vocals. The song suddenly transforms with ghostly backing vocals and aching violin notes. Berninger’s vocals as always break through with a startling intimacy and honesty; “it takes a lot of pain to pick me up.”
Pink Rabbits, the second last track, acts as the pinnacle for Berninger’s suffering. Starting with a strong piano intro and faint synths, Berninger’s vocals and Devendorf’s drums control the pace of the song, rising slowly and majestically before relaxing into a stunning outro. Aching synths echo around Berninger’s agonised cries, and the line “you said it would be painless” makes you want to comfort him and say everything’s alright. The drums somehow manage to be just as emotive as the vocals, and the gentle instrumentation couldn’t complement Berninger’s tender lyrics any better.
The National’s brilliance lies in their consistency. Each album has been better than the one before, and the same can be said for ‘Trouble Will Find Me.’ From start to finish the album is filled with intense and emotive songs that showcase the fabulous and highly distinctive vocals and lyrics of Matt Berninger. Surely there will come a point where The National won’t be able to improve upon themselves anymore, but for now we can revel in the masterpiece that is ‘Trouble Will Find Me’.