The Week That Trouble Found Me

I missed my deadline. I’m sorry. I’ve failed you. If it makes you feel any better, I stayed up extra late to bring you this even though I have to work early tomorrow. On the bright side, I have pink streaks in my hair again (which you might know from Twitter). So, moving on….

Album: Trouble Will Find Me                                                          Artist: The National


I actually did not purchase this album for myself. My concert buddy/faithful reader Alexandra bought it for me — a stupid idea for her really. She only bought it because she wanted me to experience it on vinyl, and she doesn’t even have a turntable. That, my readers, is friendship (since then I’ve bought her a lot of food to attempt to make up for it).

To be honest, I’ve been meaning to do this album for a long while now. Don’t ask me why I haven’t; sometimes I just roll that way. And in keeping with this honesty streak, I don’t know that much about the National. I know that they emerged circa 2000-2001 with their self-titled album, and I know that Aaron Dessner produced Local Native’s Hummingbird, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. Their Wikipedia page didn’t help me much, either.

I did learn one rather curious fact in my research, though. Rather than writing lyrics with music to go along with it, band members Aaron and Bryce Dessner write music to which Matt Berninger then responds to with lyrics. To me this seems a little backwards, but it’s totally working for them, so I won’t question it.

I like listening to The National because it’s easy listening. You feel happy? Relax to The National and get on Pinterest (just don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics — they might bring you down). You feel sad? Wallow in it with The National. You feel angry? Relate to The National.

Throughout their careers, The National been labeled as “boring” by some listeners. This isn’t the case; at least not to me. It’s not even that it’s acquired listening or that it’s for “smarter” listeners; it’s simply because until you actually give it a real shot, The National does seem boring. Matt’s baritone vocals can seem a little monotone and their sound is nothing if not reliable.

While these traits do seem like, and most often are, regular criticisms, they can also be spun in a more positive light when considering The National’s trademark sound. They’ve found what works for them and they’ve expanded and crafted that sound. Like I said before — it’s easy listening. The entire album plays pretty seamlessly; it’s like you don’t notice the song changes at first.

But what about the lyrics? Remember how I said they would bring you down? The National has a rep for somewhat melancholy words; Trouble Will Find Me is no exception. In my head when I listen to Trouble Will Find Me, I picture suburbia — or rather the underlying frustrations of suburbia. Maybe that’s because that’s something that irks me a lot, and maybe that’s what this album does to you. It pulls out those inner frustrations with the world and makes you wear them on your sleeve for awhile. As Berninger croons “It’s become the crux of me/I wish that I could rise above it” in “Demons” listeners can’t help but feel the same kind of feeling, wishing that they too could avoid staying down with their demons. It may make for easy listening, but it isn’t exactly easy dwelling.

And that’s how the whole album feels. The National has certainly figured out how to work a crowd with their shared feelings of despair. Maybe it’s a little sick, but it’s nice to know you aren’t the only one.

Overall, I liked this album a lot. It’s quiet, and it’s soft, and — in a similar way to Local Native’s Hummingbird — it let’s listeners know that sometimes it’s normal not to be okay.

I know this post was short and kinda sucky, but I’ll try to make it up to you. In my defense, I’ve worked 19 hours this week and it’s only Wednesday. Basically what I’m trying to say to you is go listen to The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, because then instead of me telling you what the experience is like, you can feel it for yourself. Until next week, keep listening.

Suggestions for next week are appreciated. You can comment on my Facebook page, tweet at me, or leave a comment here.

Honorable Song Mentions: I Should Live In Salt, Don’t Swallow The Cap, Sea Of Love, Graceless, I Need My Girl, Humiliation (What? It was a good album.)


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