There’s something strangely comforting about The National’s dreary, anxiety-ridden rock lamentations. They seem to meet you where you’re at rather than drag you down.

The National strike a reverberating chord with anyone who’s ever felt alone on a packed subway or apathetic at a wedding – they isolate the little moments of confusion and emptiness and bring them under a lens. Matt Berninger’s solemn baritone trades range for blunt impact, and he injects some dry humor into his lyrics this time around. “I am secretly in love with everyone I grew up with,” he sings on “Demons,” one of many singular introspections he cites like shedding skin. There’s a strong desolation permeating “Trouble Will Find Me,” furthered by musical choices that allow for plenty of space and some fractured percussion.

This album is The National at their most focused and distinct – the songs are often distant but profoundly human, resonating with a melodic ache. But that’s not to say it’s all darkness. Take “Humiliation,” where each of The National’s strengths come together to the effect of swimming towards light breaking through the water’s surface. The suffocation is still overwhelming, but there’s no denying the beauty.

About the Author

Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul is another awesome member of the iSPY team.