The National
Trouble Will Find Me


4.4
superb

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
May 22nd, 2013 | 2670 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dim the lights.

After twelve or so years of The National’s existence, we’ve finally reached the point where the first paragraph of every review should be dedicated to drummer Bryan Devendorf. Even after the gradual softening of the band’s music over the last three albums, he is still capable of transporting songs to different realms, using his snare drum as a portal through which yet more beautiful plateaus stretch. Trouble Will Find Me gives him fewer chances to do so, but that only makes it all the more exciting when it happens, when he tears in half the many layers of The National’s music and redefines what we thought we were hearing. The first time happens quite early, in opener “I Should Live In Salt,” right before the second verse. It’s what made me fall in love with the song before I was even halfway through.

But as good as he and the rest of the musicians remain, it’s hard to tell if, as a whole, Trouble Will Find Me is a classic like the last three National albums. Certainly their approach seems different: most of the time the band sounds as if they were seeing how much they could dilute a song while still having it pack a punch. It generally works, like with “Slipped,” where the instruments very gradually impede upon Matt Berninger’s vocals, or with “Demons,” which somehow contains a subtle energy that simply shouldn’t be present in a song with that kind of precise pacing. But “Heavenfaced” doesn’t work as well; despite the beautiful way the piano and drums dance around each other, and Berninger’s bare lyrical honesty (“If you lose me, I’m gonna die”), the song never really ascends into that stratospheric territory where most of The National’s songs reside. I can’t help but think, “If they had added another minute…,” or, “If they had added just one more instrument…” Those thoughts are echoed in a few other places on the album, and I hate that urge to be a backseat composer, but still I can’t shake them.

In spite of that, this album is yet another amazing work from a vitally important band with a vitally important frontman. For all of Devendorf’s signature verve, the music on Trouble Will Find Me is structured in a way that makes Matt Berninger the album’s MVP. He’s always been a good singer, but there is an urgent frailty to his voice on this album. He sings every line as if they had to be sung. Maybe they did. Hearing the last word of the absolutely jaw-dropping bridge of “Demons” - that strained “fuck” that has been imbued by Berninger with such pain - is like listening to the encapsulation of every National album, of everything they’ve ever tried to convey with their music. Not much on this album is immediate, and that’s a little disappointing, but more than any other National work, Trouble Will Find Me hints at depths upon depths hidden beneath the surface of thirteen very pretty songs. In “Pink Rabbits,” when Berninger sings, “You didn’t see me/I was falling apart/I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park,” there is something in his voice, something in the music, that makes the words heavy as hell. The meaning of the line seems so obvious when you read it, but to hear it is to know that it must mean something else, something more. And I don’t suppose I know what it is, but I know it’s something true.



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user ratings (1178)
Chart.
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excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
fish.
May 21st 2013


22382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Here we go

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


17958 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

5/5

fish.
May 21st 2013


22382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still love that album cover

tommygun
May 21st 2013


25670 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sweet rev

pornogratherapy
May 21st 2013


100 Comments


Need this

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


10917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

BRYAN*

Ziio
May 21st 2013


56 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The bridge to "Demons" is one of my favorite moments of this year.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, still need to give this more time to see if I agree or not though.

Digging: mewithoutYou - Pale Horses

Iluvatar
Emeritus
May 21st 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

WRONG

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hanson is this going to be one of those Fair to Midland things where one day you're like HAHA NEVERMIND IT'S A 4.5

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


17958 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

no because he actually listened to fair to midland

ILJ
May 21st 2013


6841 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

short and to the point



me likey

killrobotmusic
May 21st 2013


671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Your reviews always foreground the emotional core of an album, and that is something that I, being too analytical for my own good, can truly appreciate/be envious of. Cheers.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


15094 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

"In “Pink Rabbits,” when Berninger sings, “You didn’t see me/I was falling apart/I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park,” there is something in his voice, something in the music, that makes the words heavy as hell."



these types of lines--and i can't explain why...cloying?--are the ones that always turned me away from the national, very good band though they are. i liked the "sea of love" single and will listen to this, though

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


17958 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

i don't think cloying is the right word to use



but i could see someone thinking it was stupid

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


15094 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

yeah youre right. idk tho. kid in the sea of love video is mvp

YourDarkAffected
May 22nd 2013


1735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Daveyboy says that Matt looks taller

barcafan21
May 22nd 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

easily aoty

Parallels
May 22nd 2013


7564 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no dont say that

Digging: A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

DamnVanne
May 22nd 2013


2029 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

I'm giving The National a listen for the first time right now, and I can't see why you folks could possibly care this deeply for this band

Digging: Crying - Get Olde Second Wind



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