The band’s sixth studio album finds them settling into a definite groove, a comfort zone that seems immediately more expressive and tangible than the experimental/creative phases of a thousand other bands. To say that the band perfected their sound on their previous album, 2010’s High Violet, is probably not hyperbole – every track on that album (and Boxer, truth be told) was a winner, and while the same may not be the case on Trouble Will Find Me, it’s close enough to warrant a recount. The National have always been about a love of challenging rhythms married to Matt Berninger’s melancholy baritone, and nothing about that has changed here. Standouts like “I Should Live In Salt”, “Fireproof”, “Sea Of Love”, and “This Is The Last Time” showcase the odd timings the drummer prefers, as well as Berninger’s insidious songwriting type – songs that take two or three listens to really settle in but that are studded with little hooks and phrases that necessitate further spins. On the whole, Trouble Will Find Me is rather top-loaded, with the really stellar moments on the last half of the album coming a bit further apart; side B settles into a gentler, more piano-driven set that is comforting but tends to run together in the end.
There may be little here to differentiate the album from anything they’ve released since Alligator but unlike most bands this is not a serious problem. Fans of the band will not find anything to dislike and will probably be ecstatic about the continuation of their sound. Newcomers to the National will find an album that, while not as immediately accessible as High Violet, provides plenty of outcroppings for casual listeners to grab on to. Of course, that there would be anyone left out there that hasn’t listened to the band yet would be something of a surprise; after all, despite their lack of airtime on terrestrial radio, they routinely sell out shows, take over Sirius XMU for a week to celebrate this release, and get away with charging lower-level stadium band prices for their tickets. It’s a testament to the internet age that, in a world where they’re not getting played on modern format radio, they’re one of the biggest rock bands going – a lot of you are listening. A lot more will be listening after this album, I’m sure.