Few bands release albums as consistently poignant as The National. It took me a few weeks after its release to stumble across “Trouble Will Find Me,” but once I did, it immediately became my go-to album in their catalog. The trademarks of their sound, like the subtle weight in rhythm and Matt Berninger’s instantly identifiable baritone, are all developed in masterful levels, along with some harmonies and auxiliary here and there that make for a layered, updated sound. I love how this band isn’t afraid to branch out with instrumentation while never allowing a new sound to become a crutch or a gimmick – this is crafting an overall sound by paying very close attention  to what each little piece gives.

Lyrically, this might be their most depressed yet, which is saying something. Start to finish the album seems, to me, to catalog an acceptance of despair, a plateau of hopelessness (“I don’t need any help to be breakable, believe me”), and a complex relationship with regret. On “Demons,” the past and regret are comfort zones, on “This Is The Last Time,” they are burdens. I love the references to scenes and places, objects like flowers and fainting chairs are as much scene-setting as they are metaphorical. The word “melodrama” comes to mind, but in a self-aware way – past National records are a little more aggressive, angry and destructive in their sadness and “Trouble” is far more measured, like a heavy sigh.

Despite the subject matter being as introspective and melancholy as it is, I find listening to the album incredibly fulfilling, in the way that a good record in solitude makes you feel less alone, makes you feel connected. This is an Album of the Year contender as far as I can tell, in part for its ability to rise above any labels or trends that previously dogged The National to prove their place as a serious, deserving player in modern music. They don’t have a bad album. But “Trouble Will Find Me” stands out among their catalog and among 2013 releases as one of the best, in my opinion, for expertly showing how powerful songwriting doesn’t need fireworks and gimmicks or formulas, it just needs an artistic patience, and an expressive heart, however busted it up it might be.

“Graceless
Is there a powder to erase this?
Is it dissolvable and tasteless?
You can’t imagine how I hate this
Graceless

I’m trying, but I’m graceless
Don’t have the sunny side to face this
I am invisible and weightless
You can’t imagine how I hate this
Graceless

I’m trying, but I’ve gone
Through the glass again
Just come and find me
God loves everybody, don’t remind me

I took the medicine when I went missing
Just let me hear your voice, just let me listen


Graceless, I figured out how to be faithless
But it will be a sheme to waste this
You can’t imagine how I hate this
Graceless…

I’m trying, but I’ve gone
Through the glass again
Just come and find me
God loves everybody, don’t remind me
I took the medicine and I went missing
Just let me hear your voice, just let me listen

All of my thoughts of you
Bullets through rock and through

Come apart at the seams
Now I know what dying means
I am not my rosy self
Left my roses on my shelf
Take the wild ones, they’re my favorites
It’s the side effects that save us

Grace
Put the flowers you find in a vase
If you’re dead in the mind it will brighten the place
Don’t let them die on the vine, it’s a waste
Grace

There’s a science to walking through windows.
There’s a science to walking through windows.
There’s a science to walking through windows,
There’s a science to walking through windows without you.”

~Graceless
The National, Trouble Will Find Me