ALBUM REVIEW: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Trouble Will Find Me artwork
Trouble Will Find Me artwork

ARTIST The National

ALBUM Trouble Will Find Me

LABEL 4AD

RELEASE DATE 21.5.2013

7.2 | 10

By now, we all know what an album from The National will sound like. After a string of fantastic albums, including 2007’s Boxer and 2010’s High Violet, the band returns with Trouble Will Find Me, perhaps their least rewarding release yet. There’s a lot of beautiful moments here, but it’s more of a skin deep beauty than anything else.

“I Should Live in Salt,” is one of their most melodramatic songs, with Matt Berninger singing, “I should live in salt for leaving you,” a notion one would expect to hear from a high school romance gone sour rather than a man well into his 40s. “Demons” admittedly sounds better in the context of a full album rather than as a single, as does their recently released “Sea Of Love,” one of the more upbeat numbers here.

Despite the immense beauty of these songs, there’s something about them that make them feel a bit too one-dimensional. Songs such as “Fireproof,” as well as the majority of the second half of Trouble, fill the same void, creating a surplus of mostly forgettable, uninspired songs. Other than the three prerelease tracks, other highlights include “This Is the Last Time,” which perhaps includes the most breathtaking moment here, with a dramatic shift in tone at the 3:15 mark, full of swelling strings and Berninger’s most affecting vocal performance, singing “Jenny, I think I’m in trouble, I can’t get these thoughts out of me.” Another highlight is the fantastic “Pink Rabbits,” a song which will stick with you for days courtesy of a gorgeous melody and heartfelt vocal delivery. “Am I the one you think about,” Berninger asks, afraid of what the answer most likely is.

With Trouble Will Find Me, the band has fallen into the same trap as Animal Collective, Spoon, TV On The Radio, and several other bands by releasing an album that at times showcases their immense talents yet mostly makes the listener pine for the band’s past recordings. The trouble here isn’t that the band lacks the ability to still create heartbreakingly beautiful moments, it’s that here The National sound like a band that’s aware of their past successes and now ask themselves, “What’s next?” Maybe next time they’ll have the answer.

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3 thoughts on “ALBUM REVIEW: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

  1. A couple factual errors: Boxer came out in 2007, Matt Berninger is 42, The Shins don’t have a song called “Pink Rabbits” (the have one called “Red Rabbits” and another called “Pink Bullets”).

  2. Thanks, Andrew! Those were some awful lapses in memory on my part. I totally mashed those two Shins tracks together. I’m curious to hear The National’s take on “Red Bullets.” Will do better next time.

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