A solid effort
Six albums in, and it feels like The National are now comfortable in their musical skin and newfound success. Trouble Will Find Me finds the band returning with their usual soundtrack for life's emotional crises; songs about frustrated romantics, directionless drunks, and semi-requited love, all sung with a daydreaming baritone and uplifted by hopeful melodies.
But rather than play it safe and retrace the thoughtful anthems that made High Violet so popular, the album returns to the experimental directions of Boxer. Tracks move from the layered and galloping (Sea of Love) to crawling, thoughtful reflection (Heavenfaced), and back again.
While it might sound an album lacking cohesion, it's the highly polished production that manages to hold everything together. Anybody expecting another Bloodbuzz Ohio will probably be disappointed, with songs like Humiliation bordering on the big payoff, only to smartly go in a minimal direction.
Matt Berninger's vocals are still a focal point, and it's easily his strongest performance so far, even if the abrasive temperament of Alligator is missing. There's an acceptance in his voice, which seems to be a major theme running through the album, and though his lyrics are delivered from a lighter perspective, they still retain that barfly poetry that made them so relatable in the first place; feeling at times more exposed and frank than the allusions of before (This is the Last Time).
TWFM isn't the best album they've ever done, and it does feel like a band going back and refining an earlier effort. Newcomers unfamiliar with the older albums will certainly tap into this as album of the year material, but for the older fans, this is solid effort straight off the bat.