For many, The National’s recent performance at New York’s MoMA PS1 gallery confirmed their rightful status as Serious Art. For others, the experience of listening to the Brooklyn four-piece play the same track, ‘Sorrow’, for six hours on end would have been indistinguishable from the experience of… well, just listening to a National album. Their five previous LPs have perfected the glum, red-eyed alt rock dirge with existentialist lyrics and a tailoring bill to match its scotch tab. Addictive if you like a wallow; a slog if you value variety or silver in your clouds.
‘Trouble Will Find Me’ could be the album to unite both camps. It has all the stadium-filling darkness you’d expect from a recording begun in a blackout the day Hurricane Sandy hit. But the propulsive sing-along ‘Demons’, warmly dilapidated ballad ‘Slipped’ and slow-burning mantra ‘Humiliation’ are bigger, poppier yet still lugubriously sexier than any of the singles from 2010’s Brit-nominated ‘High Violet’. ‘Humiliation’’s line ‘all the LA women, fall asleep while swimming, I get paid to fish them out’ is a Twitter fiction gem worth your money, and your misery, alone.