Based on their musical repertoire, it seems The National and its baritone lead singer Matt Berninger have had their share of bad breakups. The band’s sixth album, “Trouble Will Find Me,” is by and by about love…that of the doomed variety. “You keep a lot of secrets / And I keep none / Wish I could go back /And keep some,” Berninger sings on the track “Fireproof.” Ouch. The amount of angst packed into a National album could come off as annoyingly woe-is-me to some, but they’re able to pull it off because the music is just so beautiful.
The album’s first single, “Demons,” has everything that you’d love in a National song — that is, anthemic drumming, Berninger’s soul crushing voice and haunting lyricism, all wrapped up in an atmospheric haze of electric guitar noise. Listening to a National album is like floating in a sea of heartache and catharsis. But what’s nice is that even though every song on “Trouble Will Find Me” is so characteristically The National, the tracks that make it up still share between them a good amount of variety in tempo and mood and character. “Don’t Swallow the Cap” is catchy in a jumping-up-and-down-on-a-mattress kind of way. “Fireproof’s” acoustic moodiness brings to mind a resurrected Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley. They even get experimental on “This is the Last Time,” which features a strings section and ethereal background vocals.
As with any album by The National, don’t expect anything remotely cheery. Expect Berninger’s voice to lull you into a memory that you wanted to forget. “Now I only think about Los Angeles when the sun kicks out,” he sings on “Pink Rabbits.” I don’t know what Los Angeles means to him, but I know the feeling.
Sounds Best When: Wallowing
99 cent Download: “Pink Rabbits”