PrintEarly reports of The National’s long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed High Violet talk of new directions, fresh diversions. Indeed, singer Matt Berninger himself talks of these songs as more “immediate and visceral” than those of previous albums.

I have to say, I don’t see it, nor I do it hear it. For me, the songs that start off Trouble Will Find Me might well have carried straight on from the end of High Violet, neatly spliced to form one coherent double album. So instead, what we actually have with the 13 tracks on this album is, essentially, more of the same. And that’s absolutely dandy. I eagerly bought High Violet, on the recommendation of friends with impeccable taste, and have played the bejees out of it. So more of the same… well that’s just fine by me.

The National have a solid, rounded sound: shimmering, distorted guitars, breathy vocals, heavy percussion and the kind of tightness you might expect from a five-piece band containing two sets of brothers, and one of those sets twins. It’s a family affair. To accompany the release, The National premiered a film, Mistaken For Strangers, at the recent Tribeca festival. Documenting the stresses and strains on the High Violet tour, the film was made by Tom Beringer. Yes, the brother of the one member of The National who doesn’t already have a brother in the band.

Across the album, the guitars range from the more gentle sound of tracks like ‘Fireproof’ and ‘I Need My Girl’, to the more upbeat ‘ Don’t Swallow The Cap’, whilst elegiac notes ring out in the halls of ‘Heavenfaced’, space opening up within the music. Vocals are low-slung, understated, and so smokey it’s as if they had been recorded over burning peat. That technology is more likely to be found at a whisky distillery than the Clubhouse studios in Rhinebeck, New York, but certainly, the music evidences that kind of texture. The lyrics across Trouble Will Find Me thankfully keep up the brutal bawdiness of High Violet, and are equally contemporary and original. At one point, for instance, Berninger explains how “there’s a science to walking through windows”.

In the parlance of malt whisky, the tone, or the expression of Trouble Will Find Me is gentle and folksy yet urbane, edgy. After several listens, the album is still yet to move me in the way High Violet managed, but like those smoky malts of Islay, that complexity of response may come, with time.

7 out of 11

Release Date 20/05/2013 (4ad)

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…