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Artist of the Week

The National Continues Their Melancholy With More Smart, Stunning Songs

Lloyd Bishop/NBC/Getty Images

The National have never been about sugarcoating it or spinning the truth, and they don’t need theatrics to deliver. The beauty of The National has always been their handling and execution of imagery.

The National continue to make smart, stunning music that casts light on lost loves and life’s struggles. Trouble Will Find Me exists in the same hopeless world as the previous albums, Alligator, Boxer, and High Violet.  The National’s range is limited, but that’s okay. That isn’t discrediting the group. They’ve found their niche, and they are sticking to it.


In the first single “Don’t Swallow The Cap,” Lead vocalist Matt Berninger admits in his brooding baritone, “I have only two emotions / Careful fear and dead devotion / I can’t get the balance right.”

The beautiful “Sea of Love” is a song-length apology. “Sorry I hurt you/ But they say love is a virtue don't they?”  This time, the narrator is found trying to calm a friend, or lover, before recognizing that if he surrenders to that same rotation, trouble will find him. The record’s title appears on this song about the sea and how we all seem to be descending deeper into a bottomless gorge. “If I stay here trouble will find me/ If I stay here I'll never leave/ If I stay here trouble will find me/ I believe.”

The music is thoughtful and the entire time, you’re left with this visualization of the album’s narrator, isolated, with nothing but the memories of his past.

The National consists of brothers, with twins Bryce and Aaron Dessner on guitar, and Bryan and Scott Devendorf on drums and bass. Lead vocalist Berninger doesn’t have a brother, not in the band, at least. Berninger’s younger brother, Tom, is the subject and the director of the documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, which opened the Tribeca Film Festival in April.


Mistaken for Strangers takes place in 2010, after the release of High Violet. As they begin the then biggest tour of their career, Matt Berninger invites Tom to be a part of their tour crew, and tension between the two brothers ensues. “It sucks being Matt’s brother,” Tom says during the film. “He’s a rock star and I am not.”

With a new documentary, a critically acclaimed new album, and their biggest tour yet, The National are here to stay.

You can hear The National on Sound Waves from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on WFIT 89.5 fm.