Some songs about age and regret will be predictably glum. The National makes them into an art, too, on “Trouble Will Find Me,” the Brooklyn-based band”s sixth full-length album. From the suffering upright piano and solemn bass on “Pink Rabbits” to climactic heart-rush of “Sea of Love,” there”s always a current of unflinching melancholy, with the National”s enduring, intelligent rhythm section.
“I wish I could rise above it / but I stay down with my demons,” singer Matt Berninger sings in “Demons,” directly after unusually peppy opener “I Should Live in Salt.” Even between these two songs, there”s a fun mix of time signatures; in “Don”t Swallow the Cap” there”s a horn resembling a sigh and a female voice whimsically filling out the gray. And if the lyrics in “I Need My Girl” don”t stab at your emotions, then allow for the National”s most soothing guitar line ever fill that Feelings void.
See, even with Berninger”s low bellow and intimate despair, the five-piece always succeeds in giving dimension and life to their rock dynamic. Hoary, they”re still spirited. Berninger will sing a dirge “Oh but your love is such a swamp,” (“This Is The Last Time”) like a friend, where you”re like, “Matt. Jesus, buddy…” But then the pile-on of murmuring synths and keys, a snappy drum jump from certifiable motherf*cker Bryan Devendorf and a girl-choir brings it back up.
“Trouble Will Find me” is a clinging, claustrophobic meeting of bad feelings in a really beautiful, exotic room. It”s situated to be powerful, but rather than with a shout like on better-known “Mr. November” (2005), it”s with a convicted chant like on “Graceless.” “I”m gone through the glass again / just come and find me,” Berninger sings. “God loves everybody / don”t remind me.”