The National - I Am Easy to Find
May 15, 2019
97
"And I will not come back the same."

A career spanning two decades and seven records in, the eight studio record from indie rock stars could be intimidating at first glance, clocking at 63 minutes and their longest record to date with a plethora of fine female vocalists, this new one could be one of their boldest, sweeping work to date. The inclusion of shifting perspectives and voices with the presence of Carin Besser, Berninger's writing partner and wife is keenly embedded throughout. The vocal contributions from David Bowie bassist Gail Ann Dorsey lends a hefty amount of vocal work throughout, from opener You Had Your Soul With You, the melancholic Roman Holiday and the devastating Hey Rosie. Elsewhere, Quiet Light hits the soft spot, a lilting love song paired with an offbeat rhythm while Oblivions, a delicate piano ballad insterspersed with the sultry vocals of French chanteuse, Mina Tindle. The frenetic percussion and lush string arrangements of Where Is Her Head with vocals from Eve Owen, the daughter of actor Clive Owen is a showstopper and the following track, Not in Kansas, a seven minute effort referencing various topics and influential figures completed with the angelic voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (they would also appear in delicate interludes Her Father in the Pool, Underwater and their shining moment, Dust Swirls in Strange Light). Lisa Hannigan's easily recognisable vocals adds beauty and atmospheric quality on songs, So Far So Fast and The Pull of You with a slow, simmering pull. The haunting title track features a beautiful vocal delivery from Kate Stables, better known as This Is The Kit has its delicate folk-electronica cadence & undercurrent that floats its way to the interlude Her Father in the Pool, which recalls Grouper at her best. Rylan, a live favorite finally has a propulsive studio version which sounds the most The National-esque among the bunch.The final track, Light Years, is a relatively simple piano with Berninger's exquisitely aching baritone vocals closes the album in a strong, hopeful note. This album is an interesting case of the cover doing a great job of representing the music within - a resting Alicia Vikander representing the record's heroine and the impressionistic paint strokes epitomizing an ambitious drive to take chances without leaving their familiar sonic territory and piercing lyricism. More fluid and intricate, this symbiotic addition of female voices marks out a pivotal change for the band's timely return, and creates the emotional core of the album. They're here to pull your heartstrings, and they did.
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