It’s been three years since the National’s fifth album High Violet saw them gain a legion of new fans with a more accessible sound than their previous work – yet without changing it too much and alienating their old admirers, either. With Trouble Will Find Me, it seems they’re hoping to win over even more fans, building on the brilliant melodies and delicate lyrics that made their last record such a triumph.
Lead single Demons is amazing and classic National, and the rest of the album follows suit with plenty of tales of self-doubt and heartache. The record starts off with I Should Live in Salt in which Matt Berninger laments “you should know me better than that.” You can always hear the pain in Berninger’s voice – it’s a major part in the National’s music; an instrument in its own right, bringing feeling to otherwise simplistic lyrics.
It comes as no great surprise that most of the songs here are slow-paced – as is the National way – with Fireproof and Sea of Love showcasing the band at their vulnerable, observant best. One of the highlights, Don’t Swallow the Cap, is the most up-tempo track on the LP, however, proving they’re capable of mixing things up a little and still coming out on top.
Anyone hoping for a more cheery National album won’t be best pleased, but I have a feeling (being one myself) that none of the band’s fans are going to want that. Indeed, they have such a strong following because they observe pain and darkness so well – and they’ve certainly triumphed in doing so here. Beautiful, delicate and heartbreaking in turn, it’s a classic National album, yet it doesn’t feel repetitive; they’re still bringing something new to the table. Trouble Will Find Me is yet more brilliance from a band at the top of their game.