on May 30, 2013
I have been a fan of The National since I downloaded Boxer from emusic.com 5 or so years ago. Many call their songs "growers" cause you listen to it over and over again, but aren't quite sure why because it isn't obviously great, yet when you wake up in the morning all the songs are still rolling thru your head so you listen even more.
So once finally "got" Boxer and I quickly devoured Alligator and the other previous releases by the band. I was in LOVE!
Then High Violet came out and I was disappointed. It was like seeing someone you love for the first time in years and something had changed. High Violet was too dark for me. Too direct, in your face depressing. Every song almost. Depress me some more please! No thank you. I appreciate High Violet but it is not for me and probably near the bottom of my list of albums. Don't get me wrong, I can listen to some songs from it, but listening to the whole CD at once is emotionally exhausting. If you read interviews with Matt (singer) he will even say those lyrics were hard for him. But for this new release they flowed like blood. The difference is obvious.
When the band released a teaser of Trouble Will Find Me a month or two back with "Demons" I wasn't thrilled. Maybe it was the streaming quality. I was thinking, eh, more of the same High Violet vibe and was sad cause my love affair with the band would be wrecked.
But no. I bought this about 10 days ago and have been listening often. After the first listen I knew they were back. Songs with beats that draw you in and make you not care about the words, until one day a special lyric catches your ear and the song as a whole becomes clear. Mellow songs that you know you'll need to hear 20 times before you really get the feeling from it and then you'll wonder how you didn't love it upon first listen. Lyrics that seem to make sense but not really and you're not sure they ever will. But you break down and find the lyrics for that song online and then Poof, the song is brilliant.
If you are reading this and have no idea what I am saying, you must be new to The National. If you are a fan, you will totally get what I am saying. And hopefully you have already bought or will be buying this CD soon!
on May 21, 2013
The short review: If you were a fan of The National's earlier albums but couldn't quite get into High Violet in the same way, you will be very pleased with this excellent album from The National. The sound you love has returned.
I've been a fan of The National since Alligator came out in 2006. Both Alligator and Boxer are two of my favorite albums of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed High Violet, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I found it to be overly dark and hitting on only one note, with lead singer Matt Berninger's deep voice drowning in a sea of heavily distorted guitar that seemed to be missing all the hallmarks of an album by The National.
All of The National's albums can easily be described as melancholy. But with Alligator and Boxer, the sadness was packaged with a certain lightness and clarity. The drumming in their earlier albums was not pounding, but rather inventive. The heavy lyrics were counterbalanced with elegant tunes and music that at times could be defined as more orchestral than pure rock. At their best, The National don't rely on pounding rock to get their point across, but instead craft a complex melody that draws you in.
I'm happy to say that Trouble Will Find Me is a return to their old form. Fans of Alligator and Boxer will find themselves on familiar ground. Although some of the heaviness of High Violet returns, other songs, like the anthemic "Graceless" and the minimalist "Slipped" harken back to the earlier albums. I found as the album progressed I was more drawn in.
All of The National's albums take awhile to fully appreciate and I am skeptical of any early reviews. Avoiding my own advice, however, I can say this is a beautiful album that brings me back to The National's early albums. The National have matured and this is not an album that reflects the freedom of youth, instead focusing on a man's attempt to deal with growing older. I am not sure that it will equal Alligator and Boxer in my mind, but perhaps that have to do more with my own changes than those of the band. I have been listening to Vampire Weekend's new album nonstop since last Tuesday, but this album has replaced it. I can't wait to get many, many more listens under my belt so I can truly get into it (and hope to update my review later).
on June 20, 2013
Simply great. I've been a fan since the beginning, and this rates right up there. As usual, takes a few listens. That Devendorf drummer guy is like no other. I know nothing about drummers, but to me, he is fantastic. Another thing...if you ever have the chance to see these guys live, don't miss them. They really "rock out". I took my wife (Ms. Motown) to a show a couple of years ago. As soon as they started I simply nodded my head and flipped her a thumbs up. She did the same. Looking forward to seeing them again in September with Frightened Rabbit. Now that should be a show. One last thing...I was just listening to "Slipped" #9 in the car and started crying. Laugh if you want. Great band.
On first listen, one might be tempted to say that 'Trouble Will Find Me' is 'good but not great.' That was my initial reaction. It's certainly more subdued without some of the immediate payoff of 'Boxer' or the stunning highlights of 'High Violet' or 'Alligator.' But keep listening. The songs slowly unveil how wonderful they are, what a great body of work this is. It's meant for you to pay attention and quietly listen! After multiple listens i'm convinced that this is almost their best one. It still doesn't quite measure up to the across the board perfection of 'Boxer' (well, in my opinion at least). But there are so many great moments on here. If you are a fan, it's great. Just keep listening...
on July 26, 2013
Of course, this is totally my own opinions. But I think "High Violet" is one of the best albums in my collection, I still listen to it all the way through, after 2+ years. I had really high hopes for the new CD, and it was really hyped, I think a lof of people had the same high expectations from The National.
From the Amazon reviews, looks like "Trouble" is another popular release. It just didn't click with me the same way that "Violet" did. There are a solid 5-6 songs on the CD, the rest, honestly, seem like filler. Maybe I expected too much? Not sure. I do like some of the CD, just not all of it.
on October 23, 2013
Fear corrodes any meaningful relationship--even with a favorite band. One reads volumes into tiny changes, extrapolating frightening trajectories from three points of data, then coming up with a different (but equally terrifying) scenario when a fourth point doesn't fit the others.
Take the track length for The National's past few albums. Alligator's 13 songs made for an incredibly compelling listen, and Boxer's 12 were perfect. Then High Violet came in at 11, and my mathematical mind convinced me these awesome musicians were running out of music, on the verge of downgrading to EPs and compilation singles before running out of steam entirely. Then when Trouble Will Find Me was announced at 13 tracks, I worried they'd abandoned concision for sprawl. (This isn't the first time I've read so much into so little--take album art and titles. High Violet didn't have a predominantly black cover like its predecessors, and didn't follow the logical Alligator-Boxer-C????? progression I'd expected, so I'd worried that'd be their first departure from a trajectory of ascending awesomeness.) These things aren't entirely insignificant. The energetic colorful squiggles of the sculpture on High Violet's cover announced a charged and chaotic album whose ideas burst forth in several interesting directions, while Trouble's black-and-white mirror image of the top of a woman's head heralded a more monochromatic and precise work.
Fortunately, that doesn't mean boring. In fact, like its immediate predecessors, this album's the opposite--there's a denseness and a richness and an intricacy that rewards multiple listens, and even requires them, because you can't take it all in immediately.
Their music reminds me of the ocean. There's a common feel to all of it, but also an incredible variety, and an intense level of detail to the patterns. More importantly, once you've experienced it, you might think you don't need it any more, but something pulls you back. (Like a lot of my favorite music, I'm often perplexed and/or underwhelmed on first listen. Then I give it another go, just to see if I've missed something. And before long, the songs I thought I didn't like are stuck in my head, and I'm hunting down my fellow Nationalists to jabber excitedly about this lyric or that string segment or the other horn arrangement, the one that sounds like nothing you've ever heard before.) You go to the beach as a kid and it seems OK, but you feel like you can take it or leave it. And the next thing you know, you're an adult buying oceanfront property.
Still, this is an album with the rough edges removed, the polished work of pros who have gotten incredibly good at what they do, but who might have also explored all the corners of their sound and are now, for lack of anything better to do, going back and polishing the middle. Or (to keep things nautical) it's, in the words of musicOMH's Andrew Burgess, "A collection of waves that never break." This is a band that's steering away from the rocks and the shoals, and one sometimes misses the crashing intensity of, say, Alligator's "Abel" or "Mr. November," or High Violet's "Terrible Love."
I'm glad they're also avoiding the safety of harbor. For all the energy in its music, High Violet's lyrics offered scenes of uneasy domesticity: fearful parenting, and difficult but permanent relationships. Whereas here, the music's calmer, but the lyrics are more intense, full of angst and self-loathing and confessional recrimination. "Everything I love is out to sea," he offers on "Don't Swallow the Cap," and it seems apropos for the album as a whole; one gets the sense he loves the drama and the chaos, and is afraid of the domesticated life sketched out on High Violet. Instead, he's riding out his own personal rough weather on the high seas, on the gray day after a big storm. It's not exhilarating, but it's compelling--and those of us who signed up for this trip a while ago want to see how long the voyage can last.
on June 9, 2014
It's not perfect (more like 4.5 stars); Fireproof kind of drags, but the rest of it is pure gold I tell ya! I admit, I am a serious music snob- this one just hits me so hard, if you pay attention to the little things. Humiliation is the best song to come out in many years, Graceless is a percussion wonderland (the drummer is a god). I enjoy much of their music, but albums like Alligator, or Boxer were all 2-3 songs away from excellence- not this one. Gonna have me a few Pink Rabbits now.
on May 23, 2013
for most ordinary bands, it usually takes a year, sometimes 2 or 3 to find their "niche". the national, certainly not an ordinary band found it for the most part on their stellar 2001 debut mini.classic. they avoided the inevitable hype how? by releasing lp after lp of ridiculously great work, from 'sad songs for dirty lovers' and its one two knockdown punch to 2010's opus 'high violet'. i saw them perform that year in boston with the antlers (another great band that you should definitely check out...) and they blew me to bits with their boundless energy and impeccable song selection (and 3 encores). 'trouble' has found me and it will not be leaving my stereo system for months to come; yes, it's that good. great. reserved. heartbreaking. heartwarming. annoying. brittle. classic.
on May 21, 2013
The National is one of those groups that you don't quite understand at first, yet with time their music becomes something personal and affecting. With every album they expand their sound, dig a little bit deeper, and unearth some treasures that leave you speechless. Trouble Will Find Me is exactly what you would expect from this group: tight musicianship, haunting atmosphere, and melodies that stick with you long after the record has finished playing.
The good news for fans is that this isn't a radical departure from what's come before. If you've enjoyed anything from their previous albums then you'll feel right at home here among the band's trademarks. Matt Berninger's delicate baritone voice glides effortlessly over every cut, from the tender opening of "I Should Live in Salt" to the creepy introspection of "Demons". He remains the group's driving force and instantly pulls you into the dark and sordid affairs of these songs. The band members themselves are solid as always and each one adds a subtle yet indelible touch every step of the way. Repeated listens reveal just how intricate these songs are and you'll begin to hear flourishes and small production touches that had previously remained hidden. Musically it's a bit more fast-paced, akin to their earlier work and the sequencing ensures that ballads like "Fireproof" and "This Is the Last Time" are mixed nicely with driving anthems like "Sea of Love" and "Graceless". The mixing is well-balanced and thankfully isn't too compressed. The record has some breathing room and continues to give off an aura of intimacy that makes it easy to get lost in the atmosphere.
While The National hasn't changed up their sound in any significant way, they've proven to be great at what they do and Trouble Will Find Me is a stellar addition to their impressive body of work. It lacks some of the unpredictability and obtuse arrangements that made High Violet so incredible but it's comforting to find the band staying fresh and building upon what's come before. This is a great treat for dedicated fans and a welcome springboard for curious newcomers. Highly recommended.
on July 23, 2013
My husband wanted this CD so we bought it. He played it in the car and I didn't really like it at all except for Sea of Love and Graceless.
As I've listened to it more and especially as I've read the lyrics, I've grown to appreciate it a lot more. It's very well put together (my husband likes the driving drumming that pulses through every song) and I like that as an older artist the singer has a lot more to say about life and pain.
It's not a cheery album but it is very deep and touching.