Trouble Will Find Me
The new album by The National, the band’s sixth is a snore-fest, as dreary and mopey meet up and slow-bone while the worst albums by The Arcade Fire and Interpol are alternated in the background and the DVD box-set of one of the more recent seasons of Mad Men plays on, muted, in the foreground.
Honestly, what’s the point?
Actually, listening to anything post-Boxer from The National is a lot like watching Mad Men after the first half of the fourth season. Same troubles, the high watermark was reached, it was hinted at earlier (read: seasons two/three of Mad Men, listen: Alligator from The National) and it’s all downhill now as others catch-on in a rush to proclaim the slow, dreary, moping time-kill as something more; something visionary, something necessary.
About all The National has done for the world of indie-pop is (possibly) sell more floor-toms.
Oh and I loved Alligator and Boxer – and I probably still do. The couple of records before those too; decent enough – but never set-the-world-alight, never quite the religious experience people seem to claim.
They’re so good live.
(And if you’re not you should be).
And why that should be reason enough to collect inferior versions of the same record, over and over, is really beyond me. I just don’t get it.
And I don’t get enough to hook into on this album – at all. It’s like a lazier, more boring version of High Violet; and that was some phoned-in approximation of Boxer B-sides.
Hey, I like the band’s stance – their sort of fuck-you-we-are-what-we-are take on the maudlin-meets-mordant but anyone that tells me The National is some giant achievement in music I’ll figure would have just had time to sneak that sentence out between mandrax sandwiches.
The National is the American version/equivalent of Elbow.
And that’s being a little unkind to both bands. But mostly to Elbow.
Because The National is clearly competent – but on and on they crawl, drawing ever decreasing circles around former glories.
This record isn’t worth the waste of your cash or time. For it is in fact exactly that: a waste of time, even if it’s dressed up in the grey-for-winter tones of elegantly-dishevelled-finally-gets-a-job. It’s immaculate, heartless and ultimately artless. You proclaim this in your list of albums of the year and you’re fucking dreaming.
(And that’ll be because of those mandrax sammies…)