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The National
Trouble Will Find Me
4AD / Playground

The National's Trouble Will Find Me is their 6th album since the band formed (in Cincinnati, Ohio) in 1999, following their self-titled debut album (Brassland Records 2001). Third album Alligator (2005) and Boxer (2007), both released by Beggars Banquet, lifted the band upwards, and High Violet (4AD 2010) peaked their career as a personal best when it comes to sales and success. Until now, I guess, with Trouble Will Find Me rising.

Google The National and you probably find the phrase 'wide critical acclaim' attached to the band and their records. The Brooklyn based quintet is steered by the Dessner twin brothers; Aaron (guitar, keyboards) and Bryce (guitar, keyboards, orchestration), along with the melancholy baritone voice (of lyric writer) Matt Berninger, plus another pair of brothers (!), Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). Two pair of brothers in the same band - is that a world record, or what? Anyway, the Dessner brothers have been a busy couple over the last years. They curated and produced the Dark Was the Night project (the album, plus a concert in NYC), which included Bob Dylan's "I Was Young When I Left Home" by Antony with Bryce Dessner and "Big Red Machine" by Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner, as well as "So Far Around the Bend" with The National. Aaron has performed with/supported David Byrne, Final Fantasy, Feist, Grizzly Bear, Justin Vernon, and many more. Bryce has collaborated with artists including Philip Glass, Glenn Kotche, Lee Ranaldo and others. In 2009, Bryce performed Steve Reich's "2x5" (alongside Reich) at the Manchester International Festival, UK, and in 2011 he composed a piece for the Barbican Centre's (London, England) "Reverberations: The Influence of Steve Reich" festival. Bryce and Johnny Greenwood (of Radiohead fame) performed "The Music Of Johnny Greenwood And Bryce Dessner" as part of the 2012 Holland Festival, NL. The brothers have founded and curated many a festival over the years, such as The MusicNOW Festival (founded in 2006, as an annual gathering of the best bands and artists in contemporary music) in their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry last year at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Well, all facts aside, Trouble Will Find Me is for sure a comfortable listen.

Opening track "I Should Live in Salt" is majestic, and majesty is a fitting description of Trouble Will Find Me and The National in general. The music is a mixture of sadness and darkness, with a great portion of melancholy. They're related to (a low-toned, more melancholy) Arcade Fire, and maybe even (a not so laidback) Lambchop. They're sounding like Pulp doing songs (and maybe even fronted) by Richard Hawley, or the aforementioned Arcade Fire playing songs Leonard Cohen. The National has in fact been compared to Leonard Cohen, as well as Wilco (which I can understand) and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (which isn't that obvious to me). They've been compared to depression maestros and legends Joy Division, yes, just check out the Joy Division-esque "Graceless". Throw in Interpol as well, being another bands drawing inspiration to the legendary Manchester band. Tindersticks comes to mind as well, maybe even Babybird (anyone who remember them?).

Trouble Will Find Me combines ballads (such as the soft and mild closing track, "Hard To Find") with some slightly more up-tempo songs. Not that they break any speed limits, or breaking the sound barrier. Some of the finest moments on Trouble Will Find Me are: "Fireproof", the Pulp-ish "Sea of Love", "This Is the Last Time", the mentioned "Graceless", and "Pink Rabbits".

The National's Trouble Will Find Me is the sound of mellow cool. It is a graceful and elegant record. Trouble will not find The National, because trouble will not break the shield of melancholy.

Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our National articles/reviews: I Need My Girl, The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA, 19.1.08.

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