The sixth album from Brooklyn’s The National sees them continue an impressive run of form which has left them seemingly on the verge of mainstream success. While previous album High Violet felt like an, at times, slightly tempered conciliation of past glories, Trouble Will Find Me manages to pull off the impressive trick of finding the band at once at their most direct and musically inventive.
For those not acquainted with their brand of heart-swelling, roof-raising indie rock, the opening track tells you much of what you need to know. Frontman Matt Berninger croons enigmatic misgivings over a backing of off-kilter acoustic guitar and other-wordly synth noodlings, gradually building to an awkwardly anthemic chorus in which Berninger suggests, “I should live in salt for leaving you behind.” It’s an unsettling mix of the devastatingly personal and grandstanding that’s so typical of the group.
While Berninger’s way with an evocative, unexpected turn of phrase is as winning as ever (“I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park… I was a television version of a person falling apart”), never before have The National relied so heavily on keys, with synths beautifully colouring these tracks. The piano-led Pink Rabbits is the highlight, a swirling ballad reminiscent of Elliott Smith. Elsewhere, Don’t Swallow The Cap and Graceless are visceral reminders of their past. Too weird for the sales some expect of them and, thankfully, another triumph.