(The year 2020 marks my 50th birthday. Leading up to the day (22nd November), I’m planning on writing a blog entry for each year, picking a song or an album from then that I love, talking a bit about why, and giving it some context in my life)
As I entered my mid thirties, I never needed a band more than I needed The National. I craved an intelligent band that would challenge me, excite me, but also soothe in equal measure. My first introduction was Boxer in 2007, and each subsequent release have been welcomed into my life with open arms.
What I love about The National is how they progress with each album, but keep at the core their very essence. Their songs are laced with melancholy, but speak to me in such a relatable way. Relationships are at the core of their lyrics, but with a slant towards the changes that happen in your life as you edge towards middle age. We get songs of frustration, of regret, and the challenge of supporting the fragile infrastructure that make up most of our lives.
I have to confess that I Am Easy To Find is actually my least favourite of all their releases, but that’s only because I think all their others are nigh on perfect. The high mark is Trouble Will Find Me, an inspirational collection of truly magnificent songs, but to be honest, whichever album of theirs I am listening to becomes my favourite in that moment. High Violet, Boxer, Sleep Well Beast, Alligator – all are simply incredible.
I think my reservation with I Am Easy to Find is that it feels more like a set of collaborations than a pure, The National album. That said, I love the femininity of the songs, how the guest vocalists bring a lot to the table. There is also more experimentation than on other albums. The Guardian once called The National “America’s Radiohead”, but I don’t agree with that at all, as Thom Yorke and friends are a band who shift their style so dramatically from album to album. The National, whilst innovative, still retain the vibe of their quintessential sound.
My life would definitely be poorer if not for their music, and as I race into middle age they are just what I need. They never fail to amaze me, to move me, and their intimate sound gives me such joy. I hope they continue to grow old with me and give me more pleasure in my autumn years.