The National - Trouble Will Find Me
The National are a band that has been bopping quietly along since 1999. They have a cult following in their native America and also a European fan base. They are easily recognisable for their deep and mesmerising sound and the equally deep and melancholy sound of lead singer Matt Berringer. Berringer is a baritone and when he does go deep he reminds me of Nick Cave, the Bad Seeds front man.
Trouble Will Find Me is the bands eighth studio album and their first for three years. The name National has no meaning according to band members and was chosen for that exact reason. The bands lyrics are equally as baffling at times and many interpretations have been made about their songs.
Berringer is the lead singer and the other four members consist of two sets of brothers. Brian and Scott Devendorf and twins, Aaron and Bryce Dressner. Scott Devendorf plays the bass and Brian the drums. Aaron Dressner plays the guitar and keyboard while his twin plays the lead guitar.
I didn't really have any preconceptions of the album so here is what I thought about it:
Track One - I Should Live in Salt
A nice mellow track and a subtle opening to the album. An acoustic guitar heads the intro and Matt's voice kicks in nice and crisp. Slow to get going but when the chorus kicks in it is a breath of fresh air. The whole song seems to lift with it, as does Matt's voice. A little on the high side for his baritone voice but he sounds good and the backing vocals are good too. There's a wailing guitar solo half way through which fits well. Not a bad start to the album.
'Think about something so much. You should know me better than that. Start to slide out of touch. You should know me better than that. Tell yourself it's all you know. You should know me better than that. Learn to appreciate the void. You should know me better than that. I should live in salt for leaving you behind.'
Track Two - Demons
Matt's deep voice opens this track and we have the Nick Cave sound that I was talking about. Sorry
for comparing but you really can't help to notice the similarity. I don't mean this as a slight as I think Nick Cave is great and Berringer is by no means trying to copy him. It is simply the deepness of his voice when he sings low that makes the comparability inevitable. Not a bad song and the band sound cultured on it. It picks up three quarters of the way through and I think it will grow on me after a few listens.
'Passing buzzards in the sky, Alligators in the sewers. I don't even wonder why. Hide among the unbelievers. Huddle with them all night long. The worried talk to god goes on. I sincerely tried to love it. Wish that I could rise above it. But I stay down with my demons.
Track Three - Don't Swallow the Cap
Another Springsteenesque vibe at the start of this one. A nice little ditty if not an epic. Flows along nicely. The female backing vocals go well with Matt's voice, which is not so deep on this one.
'I'm tired, I'm freezing, and I'm done. When it gets so late I forget everyone. I need somewhere to stay. Don't think anybody I know is awake. Calm down it's alright. Keep my arms the rest of the night. When they ask what do I see. I say a bright white beautiful heaven hangin' over me.
Track Four - Fireproof
I think this song is a gem. A real mellow song but very involving and my favourite track on the album so far. I like the acoustic guitars at the start of the track. They blend together well, as does the snare and Berringer's voice when it enters. A simple effective chorus. Reminds me of a Springsteen track lyrically and ambience wise. A haunting track.
'You're fireproof. Nothing breaks your heart. You're fireproof. It's just the way you are.'
Track Five - Sea of Love
This song gives the listener an insight into the reasoning behind the band being likened to Joy Division. The rasping guitars coupled with the haunting synth and Matt Berringer's deep voice melding it all together is very reminiscent of the aforementioned group. Quite a catchy chorus and one that grows on you.
'Jo I'll always think of you, as the kind of child who knew, this was never gonna last; oh Jo you fell so fast. Hey Jo sorry I hurt you, but they say love is a virtue don't they?
Track Six - Heavenfaced
A nice slow piano or electric piano intro to this track. The first verse is dominated again by Matt's sultry tones. The second verse is accompanied by the snare and the beat picks up a little before surprisingly slowing down again. Matt's voice raises a few octaves for the chorus. Nothing explosive about the chorus but it is a likeable song.
'How completely high was I? I was off by a thousand miles. Hit the ceiling, then you fall. Things are tougher than we are.'
Track Seven - This is the Last Time
The intro to this one is dominated by a bass riff. It's another slow starter with the drums kicking in in the second verse again. This time however, the song does gain immediate momentum. You do kind of wish it would explode into life a little more but it's not lacking in a dull way. It is a slow song but it is done well and it does have more kick than a standard ballad. It changes tack at the end and almost merges into a surreal tune from a soundtrack or score.
'Oh, when I lift you up you feel. Like a hundred times yourself. I wish everybody knew, what's so great about you.'
Track Eight - Graceless
Graceless starts with a much more upbeat tempo with the drums playing the lead. Another simple, yet effective song. I like the dulcet tones of the synth behind the drums. It all flows along rather nicely.
'Graceless. Is there a powder to erase this? Is it dissolvable and tasteless? You can't imagine how I hate this. Graceless.'
Track Nine - Slipped
A synth blending into a piano and guitar at the start of this track. The Nick Cave deepness is back and at times it reminds me of Leonard Cohen. Another slow track but I like the lyrics and it is another relaxing tune.
'I'm in the crush and I hate it. My eyes are falling. I'm having trouble inside my skin. I tried to keep my skeletons in.'
Track Ten - I Need My Girl
Great use of the electric guitar to open this track. Another simple little ballad of a track and easy to listen to. I like the way the synth slowly starts to build in the background midway through verse two.
'I'm under the gun again. I know I was a 45 per center then. I know I was a lot of things, but I am good, I am grounded.'
Track Eleven - Humiliation
At five minutes and two seconds long, Humiliation is the longest track on the album. This track has a nice beat to it, without the drums being too heavy. It's almost a one verse track with no discernible chorus to speak of. There is some nice use of backing vocals in the latter part of the track.
'If I die this instant, taken from the distance. They will probably list it down, among other things round town.'
Track Twelve - Pink Rabbits
An Elton John like piano intro opens this track and Matt is higher on the scale again. In keeping with most of the album, we are treated to another slow song but it is a nice song and I always feel that this bands slow songs are better when Matt Berringer doesn't sing too deep and in this one he doesn't.
'It wasn't like a rain; it was more like a sea. I didn't ask for this pain, it just came over me. I love a storm, but I don't love lightning. All the waters coming up so fast, it's frightening.'
Track Thirteen - Hard to Find
This is probably the slowest track on the album, which is OK, but I was kind of hoping to end with a bang. I don't like the back-drop to this track as it is a little grinding. There is a piercing synth chord constantly hissing at back of the track and it is rather off-putting.
'If I try you'll probably be hard to find.'
As I said at the opening of the review, I wasn't expecting anything at all from this album one way or another. I have to say it is something you can sit down and relax with. I would class it as an easy listening album, but one with some culture and the maturity of a band who has been at their craft for long enough to know when something is worth doing or not.
It is not a stand-out brilliant album but it is not a dull one either. It is definitely worth a listen and I daresay that if you are a fan of the band it will be utterly favourable if not just for the fact that your favourite band has released thirteen new tracks.
I think I will give certain songs a listen from time to time. I like 'Fireproof' a lot.
If you're expecting some heavy rock tracks from this American Indie band then you'll be disappointed. It is primarily indie based but most of the songs are slow paced but that is how the band intended them to be. I may feel differently when I have given it a few more listens or heard the tracks on my headphones, but for now, this is my first impression of the album.
Fans of Joy Division, The Joy Formidable, Leonard Cohen, Springsteen and Nick Cave will probably like this album and indeed this band.
I would give the album three out of five stars.
When your last album hit the Top 10 in 11 different countries, you have a difficult act to follow. That's is the challenge facing The National with "Trouble Will Find Me", after their last album, 2010's "High Violet" achieved exactly that and as if further proof were needed that The National had gone mainstream, they were also asked to provide songs for television series "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire", as well as video game "Portal 2". But The National are no flash-in-the-pan group that have suddenly have success thrust upon them, instead they have built up a following over many years and "Trouble Will Find Me" is their sixth full album, with a couple of EPs thrown in for good measure. The National have had time to enhance their skills and it certainly shows.
Opener "I Should Live in Salt" starts gently, with the opening lines possibly having resonance to many a boyfriend: "Don't make me read your mind / You should know me better than that / It takes too much time / You should know me better than that". It's a moody and introspective opening to the album that picks up a little in the chorus when the vocals go a little higher, but it remains a well crafted and relaxing tune throughout. In sound, it's largely driven by an acoustic guitar with a dark indie-pop feel to it.
If the opening track was moody and introspective, second track "Demons" is almost melancholic. It's got a much deeper, darker tone to it and while it does pick up in both tone and slightly in tempo about 2/3 of the way through, it's a brooding song that would be perfect for listening to in the dark. Once again, it's a down tempo indie-pop style song with the heavy drum beat adding to the deep, dark feel of the music and the title.
After these two, "Don't Swallow the Cap" is almost poppy by comparison. It's got a much more up tempo feel, helped along by the faster and lighter drum beat. The vocals aren't quite as deep as before and whilst the lyrical content is still a little downbeat with lines like "Everything I love is out to seed" this is quite a jaunty little track with a pop-indie feel to it particularly with the female backing vocals that come in over the chorus .
"Fireproof" falls somewhere between the two sounds of the album so far. The guitar work is detailed and a little more up tempo and the vocals are a little higher than they were on the opening tracks. The tempo is a little slower than the previous track and the vocal delivery is a little more down tempo, contrasting nicely with the hurried drum beat and the intricacy of the guitars. As a combination, the song works very well and at just under 3 minutes, it seems to be over before it's properly begun, but it's exactly the kind of track that inspires you to use the "repeat" button on a music player.
There's quite a rock feel to the opening to "Sea of Love", with a pounding drum beat and the guitar work. It's again slightly more up-tempo track and then suddenly takes a down-tempo moment for the chorus before picking up again. It works well as a wonderful contrast and the vocal delivery combined with the music reminds me a little of Joy Division, but it has a feel that means it sits well in with the modern indie-rock bands.
The tempo and mood drops again for "Heavenfaced", reverting to the moody, melancholic feel in the opening verses. The second verse raises the mood of the vocal as well as of the music, pushed along by the increased tempo of the drums, but drops back again for the very end of the track and closing with a few moody piano notes.
There's a fuzzy bass guitar opening to "This is the Last Time" which sets the tone and the mood immediately, before the vocals add a downbeat start to the song as well. Once again, the drum beat picks the track up and the vocals follow and the darker bass line picks up a little in response as well. It never becomes as active a song as "Sea of Love", but it's always an interesting track, especially when the orchestral movement comes in towards the end and it sounds a little like something the Beatles might have come up with in their more experimental moments, at least musically.
"Graceless" is another up-tempo moment and the vocal delivery and pumping drum beat makes me think a little of Simple Minds and New Order. The lyrical content doesn't quite fit in with the up tempo and upbeat nature of the music, but as with much that has gone before, the contrast is interesting and works out very well. Musically, at least, this is one of The National's more pop-indie influenced moments and it's a wonderfully energetic song, particularly when compared to much of what has come before it.
"Slipped" takes an immediate down turn, with the opening lines of "I'm in the city you hated / My eyes are falling" setting the mood and the deep vocal delivery combining with the downbeat synth and slow beat setting the tempo. The vocal become a little higher during the chorus and the keyboard adds a little more of interest to the music, but in both vocals and overall sound, this remains relaxing and a little dirge like throughout, almost the first indie chill-out track I recall hearing.
The intricate guitar work that opens "I Need My Girl" promises a little more from the start and delivers exactly that. Musically, it's a very interesting track with the guitar taking the lead and building to a point where it comes to an almost complete stop and starts again. Once more, it's a beautiful set of contrasts within the song and the deep, brooding vocal offsets the almost pretty guitar line wonderfully and it's another great relaxing song to listen to.
As good as the album has been musically, I love the lyrics to "Humiliation". Well, to be fair, I love pretty much everything about it. There's a jaunty, light drumbeat to the opening which briefly makes me wonder if this is about to turn into a cover of A-Ha's "Take On Me" until the vocals come in. Once again, it's a deep vocal, which makes the humour of lyrics like "All the LA women / Fall asleep while swimming / I got paid to fish them out / And then one day I lost the job" stand out all the more. The beat remains consistent throughout, but the vocals switch from deep to higher and whilst this is the longest song on the album, it passes by so quickly that it never outstays any welcome it may be extended.
"Pink Rabbits" opens with a dark piano that could have been an intro to an early Billy Joel track, or something Elton John might have used during his more downbeat periods. The vocal here is higher in the range and the mood of the song isn't as downbeat as on many of the songs so far on the album. It's not exactly a cheery song by any means, but it's different from the rest of the album in any number of ways and stands out from that perspective. It's a nicely relaxing track and the slower tempo again contrasts well with the previous track. Listening to this and "Humiliation" together isn't necessarily essential, but the contrasts in sound show how good The National are, in that they can combine moods and moments so well without a drop in quality.
The album closes with "Hard to Find" which drops the tempo down almost as low as it could get for the opening with a dark feel. There is some interesting guitar work which adds in a little contrast, but this is largely a track that works on a single pace and it's a very slow one. It combines well with the opening tracks on the album, topping and tailing quite nicely with "I Should Live in Salt", but following on from a few tracks that seemed to build up, it's a slightly disappointing feel to the end of an album that had progressed nicely throughout.
This is a tough album to type, as The National are placed generally in the indie-rock category, but there isn't a lot of the rock side of things here. They fit nicely into a sort of subdivision with Nick Cave and Joy Division with the mostly deep vocals and a quite dark feel, yet somehow the dark nature of some of the music and lyrics allow this to be an album that proves to be surprisingly relaxing. Indie-rock isn't generally a preferred genre of mine and I'm far more of a fan of upbeat and up tempo music, but despite my personal preferences, I found "Trouble Will Find Me" to be a consistently high quality album and it's certainly one that I will listen to over again when I need to set a relaxing mood. At 13 tracks and 55 minutes long, it's great value for a £4.99 download from Amazon and not bad for £9.50 from Amazon, £7.04 plus postage from the Amazon Marketplace, or £8.99 I've seen it for in some offline stores.
Indie Rock band The National first started out in 1999 and released their first self titled album in 2001. They have since released another 5 including this newest album "Trouble will find me". There are 5 members in the band with Matt Berninger as lead singer.
What drew me to The National?
I first starting listening to the national after a friend sent me a song called "fake empire" which got me hooked on the band. If I'm honest, there are few songs I can actually sing along to as most of the songs are so dark with Matt's voice, it's difficult to hear what he is saying but this is what I love about the band. I often feel like I'm listening to new songs as I don't know what the song is about or what is being spoken. Some songs are very obvious and you can feel the emotion of the lyrics whereas since owning this album, I've not yet been able to understand exactly what they are trying to sing about. It's extremely fun to figure out though!.
Trouble Will Find Me
Throughout this album we see the different ranges and tones Matt Berninger can change to in each song. He has an amazing range and rasp to his voice which would attract any indie lover to the band. This album is a great addition to the bands discography as it links well with their older ones. They hadn't released an album since 2010 so this was worth the wait in my eyes.
Let's go deep into some of the songs
1. I Should Live in Salt
First song of the album and it's a brilliant start. Matt's vocals are excellent throughout changing key often. The chorus is brilliant and melodic. I love the light chilled feel this album starts off with as it's the theme for the album. Brilliant first track for Trouble will find me.
This song makes me a bit bored if I'm completed honest. As much as I like the band this song feels a bit lack lustre with the vocals even feeling bored. It kicks in a little towards the end of the song and he picks up on vocals by changing his key but it still makes me skip the song when getting to the second song on the album. Here the lead singer is singing in a low key which he uses in other songs on this album and previous albums which gives the song the emotion it's trying to portray.
3. Don't Swallow the Cap
A great opening song for this new album by the National. The song is pretty laid back yet uplifting. Lead singer Matt Berninger starts the album off with his melancholy and deep vocals. The verses are the same melody throughout and then changes up for the bridge and chorus to go back to the same note of verse. This song always excites me when I press play on the album as it has such a depth of emotion.
"nothing breaks your heart, your fireproof, it's just the way you are" In this song we see a different side to Matt's vocals as he sings higher than most other songs on the album. The lyrics are beautiful and feel almost ominous. The music feels full of emotion and creates a very distracting atmosphere. I love this song as it shows a great vocal by Matt.
5. Sea of Love
'If i stay here, Trouble will find me' these lyrics in the song from their chorus.
This song is light hearted and easy to listen to. I enjoy listening to this song greatly and it has the deepness of Matt's vocals mixed with the brilliant music with the gravel sounding guitars brings the whole song together perfectly. The lyrics in the song are beautiful. I would definitely say this is my favourite of the album.
A slow starting song with just vocal and the guitar with a haunting melody. The lyrics are very clear here and extreme emotion seeps out. The guitar breaks out later in the song with a brilliant sound and changed the key at which Matt sings. It's a brilliant track on this album and will make you feel the emotions of the song.
7. This Is the Last Time
Another song which starts of slow with just a light sound which does bring in more sound later in the song, but the song gains it's strength from the slow sound. It isn't a favourite of mine on the album and it hasn't had much play time on my cd player so far.
This song a little off beat compared to the rest of the album. The song brings in synth and a different style which completes the album. The national are excellent with bringing something different to their sound and not just focusing on one particular strength. Here we have a backing vocal with the song too which brings a great song even higher. With Matt's voice and how different it sounds in all his sounds, you will never get bored. All of their songs sound different and all have their own personality. This one is no exception. A brilliant track.
10. I Need My Girl
Such a beautiful simple song with excellent lyrics. I love this song and Matt's voice is perfect for the lyrics. I love this song and is one of my most played on the album. It just brings emotion and makes you feel the lyrics without even trying too hard. The guitar in the music is perfect and very simplistic. It's romantic and involving.
*****12. Pink Rabbits*****
13. Hard to Find
This song is the most beautiful of the album. It feels so delicate and compassion that it brings the album to a brilliant close. Being the last song on the album, it's always going to be one you think of the most as it's the last thing you heard. This one for me is the albums golden moment. I am truly addicted to this emotional album by The National and have had it in my cd player since I received it and uploaded it to my phone.
*****Did I miss some? no, I just don't want to give the whole album away for you, So I've left a few songs out so you can find out yourself what they bring to the album and the great sound they have. Don't want too many spoilers do we?*****
How I felt about this album
For me, so far it's one of my favourite albums by The National tied with their 2007 album Boxer. This album isn't something to dance to as it's more a chilled out evening album for easy listening. I always have music on when I'm cooking or cleaning and easy listening is always my go to. I was pleasantly surprised that they had kept their brilliant sound going with "trouble will find me". After three years of waiting for something new from them, we finally have it here.
I bought my copy from Amazon.co.uk and it can also be bought from play.com. I haven't seen it in the supermarkets as of yet as it only came out on the 20th of May.
I pre-ordered mine so it arrived the day it came out for purchase. You can also buy it on Itunes if you want a digital copy. I have spotify and it hasn't appeared on there yet but I'm sure in time it will soon.
Thanks for reading my review!