Review Summary: When I walk into a room / I do not light it up / Fuck
The national is a band that aims to please by digging through the pits of depression and "Mellon collie" of the human emotions. There is something really special about this band, and it is not only in Matt Berninger's special ability to stun you or the way he can capture the baritone range and claim it as his. It is as though the whole band is a hive mind as I can never find a moment in a The National song where the drums are misplaced or the guitar is out of tune with the song(unless it is meant to create a distinctive effect). Now to start off, I'll state that I've heard this album several times before having the courage to review it.
The first time I heard "Trouble Will Find Me", I did give it my undivided attention and that made me a bit too hyper-critical. I thought the music was terrific as is prominent in all of this prolific band's studio albums, but the lyrics let me down. I thought they were really lacking and I certainly detested the following phrase " It’s not a fever, it’s a freezer ". This is just one of the lines I really hated during my first few album listens, and it's certainly not the only one as I'm sure there were dozens of other phrases that I detested. But as I re listen to the album and go through the lyrics I certainly can't remember which lyrics I hated so much. What I'm certain of though is my initial point of view. And, this shows how it just grows on you, and eventually they take personal meanings .
"Trouble Will Find Me" starts with a brilliant song called "I Should Live In salt". The whole song builds up to the words of the title itself, and I especially enjoyed the way the word "behind" was used. Matt is certainly a master in not only fitting words into a song and placing it into the perfect position, but he can also twist a word's tone and sound to match his needs.
As always, the subjects of The National's album involve dramatic musical scenes about broken relationships. The thoughts of Matt are sung so well that you can't help but believe that he passed through such phases. He is stuck in the basement of his own brain constantly grieving over missing his partner, thinking over of what might have been, and needing someone to be there for him. It is unequivocal that The National is a band that believes in a philosophy where there is an indispensable need for a partner so that you can truly enjoy life to its full potential.
"Demons" is the first single of this album and it certainly succeeds in its mission of portraying and advertising "Trouble Will Find Me" as I loved it from the first listen. That's not to say it is one of the best songs here, it doesn't come close. But, it does what a single has to do.
"Don't Swallow The Cap" is one of the rare tracks where Matt sings about being satisfied with life and where he holds an optimistic view of life. It is a distinctive change from the usual themes, but it is necessary to note that the style of the music is not forsaken for this abrupt change.
Next comes one of my favorite songs "Fireproof" where the arbitrary character Jennifer is introduced, and as it seems she is one cold hearted bitch. Matt deals with the one sidedness that can occur in relationship as he sings
"You keep my secrets
And I keep none
Wish I could go back
And keep some"
I wish I was that way"
It is pretty apparent to me how Matt struggles with dealing with too much emotions running through his veins. What can he do? He can't help but feel them, go through them and in the end accept them as part of his identity. And as is also apparent he will never be a great match with girls such as Jennifer. He reveals himself to her but all he gets is a cold heart and not much emotion to scrap on. It is Matt's tragic flaw.
"Sea Of Love" has one of the best opening seconds I've ever experienced in a song as the drums and the guitars start almost simultaneously and Matt desperately says "Will you say you love me Jo". I can't overemphasize the huge role Bryan Devendorf's drums plays in this whole album. People have said it too much, he is a true-born leader of all this band's songs. He is an engraved part of The National's identity, and I can't imagine this band without him. "Heaven Faced" is the song with the infamous(at least to me) line "It’s not a fever, it’s a freezer" which I've come to love dearly. Yes, at first it did sound really cheesy and misplaced. The song ends with the beautiful conclusion that " we’ll all arrive in heaven alive, We’ll all arrive". I can't state how much I love how Matt sings "because we'll all arrive", it is simply a stroke of genius from his side.
"I Need My Girl", starts similarly to Red Hot Chili peppers "Snow(Hey Oh)" with a beautifully played guitar string. Here Matt can't help but revisit the thought that he needs someone to be able to live life at its best. As is evident in
"I know I was the 45% of then"
"I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller".
A special mention that here Bryan's drums are more subtle but as ever essential.
"Pink Rabbits" has this playful tune to it which weirdly reminded me of "Pink cigarette". Let's just say it is the melodramatic version of it. I can easily say this is one of the best lyrical works by Matt in this album and might as well be my personal favorite of all their songs. Just a glimpse of the brilliantly written lyrics would include:
"I'm so surprised you want to dance with me now
I was just getting used to living life without you around
I'm so surprised you want to dance with me now
You always said I held you way too high off the ground"
"You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park
You didn't see me I was falling apart
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart"
Matt's brilliant use of imagery is non better shown than here. These lyrics's meaning can be easily interpreted, but one line I like to break down is " I was a television version of a person with a broken heart". Does Matt want to say that he is as expectable, shallow as a soap opera character? Or is it just written in that manner because it simply sounds beautiful. The album ends fittingly with "Hard To Find". It is not a particularly special song but it is the perfect ending for a perfect album.
"Trouble will Find Me" succeeds in creating a beautiful melancholic atmosphere with a beautiful flow of music to it. Yes, there are certainly some patches that need to be fixed here and there, but that is if one has to be hyper-critical. You have to after all respect the vision and ideals of a band.
Even if Matt does show that he has an overflow of emotion, and he does seem to be generally the broken-hearted lover in a relationship. But, he also shows incredible polarity and versatility as he is able to adopt other personas. Personas such as the one presented in "Pink Rabbit". But, yeah if you'd want me to guess of the persona he truly embodies, I'll respond with "the guy who is overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions running through his head, the broken-hearted guy that grieves over lost relationships often too much, and finally the guy who is often stuck in secret meetings in the basement of his brain".