“Trouble Will Find Me” Proves The National Gets Better With Age

Marlee Newman

For fans of The National, “Trouble Will Find Me” is a walk through familiar territory with some surprising detours along the way. The Brooklyn-based band’s newest album is an introspective listening experience guided by the effortless and emotional baritone vocals of singer/songwriter Matt Berninger. The songs deliver thought-provoking and raw lyrics that are sure to teleport listeners back to the complexity of past relationships.

The album opens with a simple but heartfelt acoustic melody backed by barely-there soft instrumentals weeping in the background. “I Should Live in Salt” melts from a somber picture of hopeless love into an anthem-like proclamation of facing demons, and it urges listeners to sing along. The minimalist approach taken with many of the tracks on the album sets the stage for the lyrical genius of Berninger to shine, and provide a listening experience akin to snooping in a diary. Offering up lines that are honest and bare while still maintaining poetic flare, the lyrics leave no room for the clichés that are often synonymous with songs about heartbreak.

As the album progresses, more highlights can be found in the fast tempo of “I Should Swallow the Cap,” which also adds a touch of airy female background vocals, creating an interesting contrast with Berninger’s signature low drawl. This same vocal dynamic is also displayed within “This Is the Last Time,” a tale of sobering self-realization that is sure to emit chills.

It is safe to say that The National deserves the abundance of positive reviews that have surrounded “Trouble Will Find Me,” a much deeper, darker and less cryptic album compared to 2010’s critically acclaimed “High Violet.” It seems the band’s formula for success lies in improvement over reinvention, resulting in the perfect album to cozy up to on a cold night.