Trouble Will Find Me will send chills down your spine every listen. The National, since their self-titled debut in 2001, has produced some of the most beautiful and dependable music of the past half century—this band is legendary, and Trouble Will Find Me, with its careening vocals, effortlessly simple sound structures, and whole-hearted lyrics, is the perfect addition to a flawless discography.
Matt Berninger has never sounded better than he does on the National’s sixth LP. Trouble Will Find Me exhibits the most healthy, earnest vocals we’ve ever heard from Berninger, due greatly to him quitting smoking back in 2011, the year after High Violet was released. The effects of this manifest themselves proudly in the first track—“I Should Live in Salt” is a truly exceptional song that stunningly demonstrates the full potential of Berninger’s expressively wooden voice. The National’s customary esoteric sullenness is underscored by crescendos that transcend Berninger’s past efforts.
The rest of the album follows suit, with tracks like “Don’t Swallow the Cup,” “Heavenfaced,” and “Slipped” showcasing dreamy vocals that express only the most thoughtful of lyricism. The National has become deservedly known for their tenderly relatable lyrics that strike chords of sorrow and longing in the hearts of listeners—Trouble Will Find Me does this even more so than previous releases, with each track hitting a different soft spot with one strike of beauty and another of pain.
Expectedly, the Dessner and Devendorf brothers are impeccable. The rhythms are perfectly suited to the feel of the album, and expertly performed—especially the ingenious percussion and peppering of tambourine. Although the inherent musicianship of the band has continued to mature since the first release, the vocals are the centerpiece of this album, so the instruments are a slight distraction from the actual composition. This tactic works gorgeously for the most part, creating a soothing balance between voice and instrumental music, but it does mean that Trouble Will Find Me does not have one of the stadium-hits that we have grown accustomed to; it does not have a “Mr. November” or a “Mistaken for Strangers.” “Sea of Love” and “Graceless” are the closest to these that this album presents, and although they are breathtaking songs, they do not possess the same rigid angst as the aforementioned hits.
Like the rest of the National’s work, Trouble Will Find Me is brilliant, timeless, and poignant. Trouble Will Find Me is the National’s most heart-wrenching album thus far, and though it may not make you feel like anything is getting better anytime soon, it’ll make you feel not quite so alone.