[sic] Magazine

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

With each release by The National comes a certain weight of expectation that, with patience, what initially seems simple will give way to complex currents capable of engulfing you entirely. Now on their sixth LP of intelligent indie-rock, Trouble Will Find Me is no different in this regard, offering glorious reward in proportion to time invested once more.

Hats off to the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based five-piece for not going stadium-sized too when it must occasionally be financially tempting to morph into U2 mode. Indeed, in places, the retiring Trouble Will Find Me is perhaps the opposite of what one might expect at this stage of their wonderful fourteen-year career. The stark power of teary stripped-back cuts such as “Slipped”, for example, are just as striking as trademark moments of heavy-hearted rapture like “Graceless”, during which Matt Berninger ‘s baritone stands firm against swooping torrents that race past with almost elemental inevitability.

The National are a precious band, one that already mean the world to some and with the lump-in-throat “I Need My Girl” they’re only cementing this position. Its plucked strings fire off like welding sparks as, amidst a drizzle of ghostly harmonica, Berninger dictates the melody with tempo changes. And though this bittersweet anthem for the lovelorn has a straightforward message it delivers as massive and immovable a statement as erecting a granite monolith in driving rain.

That there’s no seismic shift in direction is comforting, especially when one considers the large supporting cast which includes backing by the likes of St. Vincent , Sharon Van Etten and Nona Marie Invie of Dark Dark Dark . Sufjan Stevens also contributes drum machine to a number of tracks, notably to the confessional first single “Demons” – part of a flawless opening five tracks during which the subtle epic “I Should Live In Salt” comes alive with the introduction of a low-end swell and the effortless beauty of “Fireproof” is allowed to shine via its diverse arrangement.

Second single “Don’t Swallow The Cap” is a real standout too, its searching guitar line pitting its wits against dynamic drums, urgent string stabs and a take-home chorus that reads like a diary entry. Closing this impeccable quintet is “Sea Of Love” from which the album title comes as well as the LP’s biggest blowout.

In such company and with a running order that lasts nearly an hour there are inevitably a few lesser peaks though they’re sequenced wisely, the open spaces and clean guitar chimes of “Humiliation”, for example, breaking up an oppressive tail-end. And despite, arguably, Trouble Will Find Me lacking an arms-wide avalanche to rival, say, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, it instead makes its case with timeless signatures of dignity and stealth that gather and swirl together as an unstoppable storm of emotion. Don’t be surprised if you lose yourself to it completely.

Advised downloads: “I Need My Girl”, “Graceless” and “Don’t Swallow The Cap”

~Trouble Will Find Me is released 20th May 2013 on 4AD .~

The National @ Last FM