Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The National Are In Full Control

They kept us waiting for quite a while. Brooklyn based band The National took their time after their highly successful and critically acclaimed album High Violet. That album put them on top of the musical food chain and on top of my year list in 2010. For the past few years everyone was eagerly awaiting their successor.

The National - Trouble Will Find Me (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Backtracking through their discography it's safe to say the band improved with every album. Their self-titled debut displayed an average indie band, but especially Boxer already exposed some of the unique qualities that eventually bloomed in High Violet. Fortunately we can conclude that they were able to maintain this high standard. But this time the difference lies more in small and subtle details.

It's not the same big step they took in between previous albums. That of course is just a luxury problem. It shouldn't be a surprise that the new album has the same sad feeling that we're used to. Like before they are not only depressing songs. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's a pale one now and then. The band sounds very confident on the record.

The songs are nicely balanced, well produced and never do you hear a superfluous note. Some subtle piano notes here and there, a bit of trumpet, all well proportioned, the band has complete control. Especially in the middle does the album reach great heights. 'Graceless', 'Slipped' and 'I Need My Girl', consecutive tracks on the record, are simply gorgeous songs. They make the world stop turning for a moment, while all you can do is listen breathlessly and let the music completely overtake you.

There are plenty of gems on the album, 'Fireproof' and 'Heavenfaced' for example are beautiful. Singer Matt Berninger doesn't write about happy things, he's trying to chase his demons away, trying to make sense of it all. Or not. Nor do his lyrics always reveal what he's singing about. Some are just dark heart breaking poems.
Remember when you lost your shit and
Drove the car into the garden
And you got out and said I’m sorry
To the vines and no one saw it
Does this make it the perfect The National album, their masterpiece? No, they raised the bar so high on High Violet, that it's more a matter of consolidation. The time they will finally drop their master piece, is the time they will blow us away. That time is near, but not upon us yet. In the meantime let's be patient and just treasure and be happy with Trouble Will Find Me.

Listen to Trouble Will Find Me on Spotify.

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