Wired into the mainframe of culture, as you know I am, nonetheless I have something to admit. Some of my buttons had been left undeployed, wires dangle, and some screws are missing.
I was all set to launch into a piece calling The National the next big thing, maybe the biggest you’ve never heard of before. Brand new sound, fresh as a daisy, first single from their deb….Oh, they’re quite old. Sixth studio album, eh? Sixth!
Research and investigation being the very core of my writing career, I launched myself into The National and came up gasping for air like a….a….jockey at the National Hunt racing at….The National. I was trying to…National…The Nati…Never mind. What I did hear with hurried YouTube album cramming rushed into and stayed settled in the brain; from country spliced with America’s interpretation of ‘indie’ (more educated, less melody), the highlights from everything since stop off at the dour rock end of the spectrum (that’ll be your American interpretation of ‘alternative’) through more commercially clothed stompers (that’ll be your record label noticing re-tweets and t-shirt sales). I would like to keep things mainstream by saying “And that’s where The National end up looking like Kings of Leon’s career trajectory acted as both lesson and warning” only to remember that The National have been around FOR SIX ALBUMS. So to nab a title from another potential influence in all this, there’s a clear case of ‘Master and Servant’.
“Trouble Will Find Me” is a cracker of an album with single ‘Don’t Swallow the Cap’ and the sharp ‘Sea of Love’ ticking plenty boxes. It’s ‘Fireproof’ that sticks with me though. There’s James Blake in there, and a dab of Thom Yorke. It’s a stone-cold lyric about the heat of rejection, briskly accepting of fate in a fashion not too dissimilar to ‘Black Holes in the Sand’ from Gravenhurst. Imagining The National as a new band releasing this to start with does seem rather daft when the album is taken for what it is – depth of an argument and breadth of a friendship, “Trouble Will Find Me” offers itself stripped of many contemporary pretences. Were this list in some kind of order, I think there’s a top three finish with this one…