The National – I Am Easy To Find – Album Review by Killian Laher
Some years ago, The National perfected a sort of stately, classy drift in their music. Eight albums into their career, they’ve all but lost any dangerous edge they possessed in favour of a sweeping, smooth drift.
So what about the music then? The album has been enhanced/hijacked (depending on your point of view) by a plethora of fine female vocalists. Opening track You Had Your Soul With You has a very busy arrangement, and towards the end becomes dominated by the voice of Gail Ann Dorsey. Quiet Light opens with plaintive piano that evokes Fake Empire, but has a distracting drumbeat which makes it something of an unsettling, confusing anthem.
Some of the softer moments are very good indeed. Roman Holiday starts out as a sparse, dark and smoky piano ballad before Dorsey’s voice sweetens things somewhat. Many of the tracks are introduced by female vocalists. Lisa Hannigan introduces the gorgeous, brooding So Far So Fast and the nagging, swaying The Pull of You, which also features a spoken word part from Sharon Van Etten. Nothing wrong with this as such, but it seems strange to relegate one of the band’s strongest qualities, Matt Berninger’s voice, to the background.
The album picks up pace with the Eve Owen-sung Where Is Her Head, and Berninger’s own Rylan towards the end of the album. Not In Kansas starts with a gorgeous, soft guitar part and Berninger singing a melody vaguely evoking Apartment Story. But it’s as if they decided halfway through there wasn’t enough in the song, after two minutes we get an angelic voices of the Brooklyn Youth Choir, which totally throws the atmosphere of the song. Final track Light Years is a relatively simple piano ballad, with a really nice melody and vocal by Matt Berninger. It’s possibly the strongest song here.
There are many classy National songs here, Oblivions, Hey Rosey and the title track, amongst others. But with so many female guest singers it’s easy to wonder, whose album is this?
At this stage, The National have settled into a comfortable groove and aren’t concerned about winning people over. All of the music here is relatively enjoyable but not a lot of it truly connects. However, the couple of moments when this band makes an emotional connection do just enough to keep you interested.
Track List –
1. You Had Your Soul With You
2. Quiet Light
3. Roman Holiday
5. The Pull Of You
6. Hey Rosey
7. I Am Easy To Find
8. Her Father In The Pool
9. Where Is Her Head
10. Not In Kansas
11. So Far So Fast
12. Dust Swirls In Strange Light
13. Hairpin Turns
16. Light Years