Removed from the spotlight
Most of us crave attention our whole lives. We spend our days looking upon those who have climbed to the top of an insurmountable ladder, we listen to them in our earpods and headphones, and stare at them through screens day in and day out. What would it take for someone to willingly remove themselves from this spotlight, and if they did so without abandoning their art, what would that even look like? I Am Easy to Find might be the first ever album to try and answer that question.
As the legendary band begins to enter their twilight years, they seem more content than ever to let themselves fade into the background than ever before. This is particularly true of baritone wielding frontman Matt Berninger who spends much of the record in the background or yielding his voice to the various women who helped collaborate on the album such as Gail Ann Dorsey and Eve Owens. The reason for this is innately tied with the short film that accompanies the record, which stars Alicia Vikander. Berninger felt it was more appropriate for there to be women accompanying his vocals so as to give a voice to the character in the film. The resulting record is deeply moving, and may just be the most affecting work by a band known for their melancholic bent.
Over the first seven songs, the album takes listeners on a heart-crushing journey, from the manic movie scene imaginings of “The Pull of You” to the longing tones of “Quiet Light.” There isn’t a single moment over the first half of the record that’s anything less than ruinously sad. In part, we have Bryce Dessner to blame for his masterful command of strings over the duration of this record. But that’s not to say that there aren’t any classic moments of The National on this record, concert staples like “Light Years” and “Rylan” join newer songs “Where is Her Head” and “I Am Easy to Find” as instantly recognizable tracks that are apt to be crowd pleasers from this moment forward.
Though the first half of the record is tremendous, some of the back half begins to lag in sections. “Hairpin Turns” and “Dust Swirls in Strange Light” are delightful tracks but they don’t scratch that same itch that most tracks by The National do. Even still this record is miles ahead of what most bands even dream of accomplishing, I Am Easy To Find carries forward The National’s incredible unbroken streak of excellent records. If this record is any indication, that streak is apt to go until the end of time. In the meantime, we’ll all be here listening, regardless of which version of The National shows up.