Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trouble Will Find Me

On the excellent third track, Don't Swallow The Cap, Matt Berninger sings this line, "If you want to see me cry/play Let It Be or Nevermind". That's the Replacements Let It Be, not the Beatles. For me it's the most intriguing lyric on an album full of intriguing lyrics. Why these two albums in particular? Or was it just an attempt to make the lines rhyme? The National has put out yet another soon-to-be critically acclaimed record, their fourth one since Alligator. Unlike its predecessor High Violet, this one's more dense instrumentally, and sans the lingering guitar distortion and noise. It's not so much a 'grower' as it is easily melodic and accessible as something like Boxer. I love how Bryan Devendorf's drumming, one of the most unique things about the band, add as much to the songs as the Dessner brothers' guitar playing, which I think they have perfected here. Trouble doesn't explore any new musical territory by the band's standards, though they don't need to, as like the singer said in a recent interview, they have reached a point where they no longer feel they need to prove themselves. Berninger delivers lots of melancholy and sadness through his signature baritone voice; his characters all got something eating away at them. But in a weird way, his vocal delivery makes their troubles 'relatable' to us. No doubt this is the best he's ever sung. This is a no-filler kind of album; even a weak track like Fireproof deserves more than a few listens. Besides the exquisite Humiliation (an immediate top five for me), another high point  is the following Pink Rabbits, a piano-driven break-up tune; "You didn't see me I was falling apart/ I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park".....that's as simple a line as it can possibly be, but yet intriguing. The National is currently the best band in America, only second to Wilco.