When I fall in love with a band's album and want to play it again and again until I know every word in my sleep, the follow-up releases almost always disappoint me. It takes a special combination of personal circumstance and the artist's particular place in their creative journey to make for something that lights up my brain circuits. But somehow, The National gets me every time. From when I stumbled on a few tracks from Alligator in 2005, the band's inspiring choruses, literate lyrics and hypnotic drumming have been the soundtrack to almost every quiet moment of my life. Matt Berninger's somber baritone is like an aural security blanket.
I play this music, particularly 2007's Boxer and 2010's High Violet, to soothe my panic attacks. I play it on long road trips. I play it when boys are over late at night, too. Most of all, The National has been there for me during the rough times, the heartbreak and grief.
So that sets the bar pretty high for Trouble Will Find Me, released this month on Matador Records. It's gorgeous, another graceful album layered with masterful playing. It elevates this thing we call rock music into high art. I love it already.