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The National's New Anthems

The National mark twenty years as a band with their eighth full-length record "I Am Easy To Find," presenting the world with a quintessential National album that also manages to expand upon their music.  Known for the melancholy, dark and sometimes difficult nature of their songs, to fans of The National those songs are like anthems.  Not rousing, celebratory anthems, but anthems in the secondary sense of church music sung by a choir.

The church is the mind of the listener, perhaps trying to make sense of the world and the weirdness within it.  And the National choir is primarily frontman Matt Berninger.  The expansion of the National's sound on "I Am Easy To Find" is due in part to the people that collaborate with the band.  Film director Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. guy) produced the record.  Berninger's wife, Carin Besser, contributed to the lyrics.  And a cast of female guest vocalists, including Sharon Van Etten and Gail Ann Dorsey, appear throughout the album.

The lyrics of The National's songs can be perceived as difficult because they are often subtle and open to interpretation.  Over the course of sixteen songs, and at over an hour in length, my impression of "I Am Easy To Find" is that the album's songs are generally coming from the perspective of an adolescent girl.  In a time of increasing attention being paid to women's voices, The National bring new anthems that fit today's zeitgeist.


Mark Simmet is a Senior Producer and Studio One Host