Moody American quintet The National are bringing their spectacularly emotional new album Trouble Will Find Me to Manchester in November.
The band, made up of frontman Matt Berninger and two pairs of brothers, Bryce and Aaron Dessner and Bryan and Scott Devendorf, have been mystifying and enchanting fans since their self-titled debut album premiered in 2001.
In an age of instant gratification and overnight sensations, The National has built a reputation of musical patience.
After an uneasy start in 2001, the Ohio rockers cemented their iconic status as cult heroes with three albums depicting Berninger’s gnawing anxieties accompanied by an ominously distressed overture.
2010 saw them edge closer to musical stardom, stupefying critics with a near perfect mix of emotive harmonies and beautifully poignant instrumental culminations.
Long, drawn out notes would leave fans on the edge of their seat until Berninger mercilessly released them, unleashing his powerfully melancholic poetry .
After five albums, The National have practiced patience expertly, never racing to the finish or rushing a masterpiece, safe in the knowledge their work would reach an awe inspiring crescendo eventually.
‘Trouble Will Find Me’ is that enigmatic magnum opus that their die-hard fans and any critic with an ounce of musical appreciation could sense was in the offing.
The now New York based band are calm and controlled in their songs as well as their path to the top, insisting their followers wait for every well crafted note before the band erupts in a cocophony of instrumental ecstasy.
Many would be forgiven for assuming a live performance from Berninger and the troops wouldn’t deliver mile-a-minute showstoppers that other household names could promise.
If Berninger’s lyrics do not epitomise excitement and cheer, his stage persona and American wit accompanies a euphoric experience of pure music that overwhelms punters.
At a performance at Leeds Festival in 2011, the quintet quietly emerged on stage to an excitable audience after a lively performance from Jimmy Eat World.
Fans may have been concerned the brooding brilliance of The National would go unnoticed on the crowd, but Berninger’s special connection with his own music carried seamlessly into the pleasantly surprised listeners.
On a furiously windy afternoon, the band joked they’d wasted all their money from the gig on a smoke machine, wherein which Berrninger showcased the tiny machine, sparking ferocious laughter among the crowds.
This self deprecating wit is typical of Berninger’s character as his tracks are intimate insights into the inner workings of a fragile individual.
Where other artists may use their songs to inform the world of raunchy one-night flirtations or boozy-fuelled mishaps, Berninger’s lyrics depict a darker reality which he endures.
Listeners are rewarded for unravelling his lyrics, experiencing waves of empathy for a man struggling with crippling loss, personal fears and lifelong regrets.
Few artists possess the capabilities to produce track after track of personal woe whilst keeping listeners engrossed and entertained by the performance like Berninger.
The National’s attitude to their music is ideally captured by the frontman’s description of the new album, branding it ‘a fun record about dying’.
You can catch The National at O2 Apollo in Manchester on November 11.
Picture courtesy of Bertrand, with thanks.