Does something like a satisfying gloom really exist? A certain sense of relief within the deepest depression? It’s a fascinating idea that is worth to be thinked about a bit longer. Especially in the context of a band like THE NATIONAL and a character like frontman Matt Berninger. The charismatic grey bearded and always good dressed singer and his depressing baritone are the linchpin of the New York-based indie rock band. It’s always been that way but it really looked like within the past years his voice got even more embittered and desperate. May it be all the wine, may it be the age or life in general – with every new record THE NATIONAL not only got better but Berninger’s songs also became way more darker. 2010’s High Violet did not just brought the group bigger commercial success but also saw the peak of heaviness within these amazing anthems. The question really was – what to follow such an intense record? How to deal with the weight of the world and the suddenly big success, especially in their home country.
“For the past ten years we’d been chasing something,” told Berninger prior to release of the new longplayer Trouble Will Find Me. “And this chase was about trying to disprove our own insecurities. After touring ‘High Violet’, I think we felt like we’d finally gotten there” he continues. This arrival could mean two things – comfort but also perplexity. What’s next for THE NATIONAL? Of course, the new album doesn’t sound like happy surf pop. It will never sound that way as long as Berninger is singing the songs. He’s still fighting the demons of his own nature. But he decided to find a friendly agreement with them as he also sings in the song by the same name. The singer accepts his role but he’s not happy about it. “When I walk into the room I do not light it up” he claims in the track, followed by an honest and frustrating “Fuck” – yes, it’s not easy being Matt Berninger. But it gets easier somehow and we’ll just have to deal with it. That’s the key topic of Trouble Will Find Me. THE NATIONAL shake a bit of the extreme heaviness from High Violet off although being still aware of the fact that the next emotional downfall might be waiting just around the corner.
The energetic Sea Of Love is a tale of this conflict. “If I stay here trouble will find me” sings Berninger, being quite aware that he’s not fully made for love, peace and happiness. But he’s trying to explore it this time. The gentle, piano driven Heavenfaced sees him singing in a – at least for his habits – quite bright and uplifting way. “Let’s go wait out in the fields with the ones we love” – what strong lyrics. THE NATIONAL spread solace as they – if you want to keep it medical – detox their sound. Trouble Will Find Me is still full of melancholy and sweet sadness, but it’s not as overwhelming as on the previous releases by the group. “You’re fireproof / nothing breaks your heart” is the key line from Fireproof, one of the record’s most heartwrenching moments. A highly introspective but also uplifting anthem. Brothers Aaaron and Bryce Dessner, the musical masterminds of the band, create gentle melodies that basically follow the previous scheme but add a few new aspects to it. The detoxication is one aspect, gentle synthesizer moments like in the spheric I Need My Girl are another one.
“Tunnel vision lights my way / leave a little life today”, a quote from the hypnotically composed Humiliation, gives more insight into the head of Berninger. Is solace finally in reach? We’re not sure but what we – and probably him – know that it’s Hard to Find. This final song on the record, one of the best ones, sums this up pretty much. It’s one of the most harmonic songs the band has done in a while. It leaves the listener in a good mood. Nothing is good, maybe something will get better – but we’ll find a way to deal with this. There’s no guarantee. Trouble Will Find Me is about this feeling and it’s the only logical consequence of how THE NATIONAL could have continued after High Violet. There is still nothing sweet and beautiful in sadness and desperation and we’re pretty sure the band would agree with us. But awareness might be a first step to find a different perspective. And this is why the world needs such a group and such a record. Fuck.
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