The National set a devastating precedent with "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks," a song at the end of 2010's High Violet. Its stateliness carries over to "I Should Live in Salt," the opening track on the band's new album. This tune stutters along on gentle guitar strums and rumbling bass, and then something remarkable happens: Singer Matt Berninger hits his highest register to emphasize the lyric "I should live in salt for leaving you behind."
Berninger's baritone fills tracks like "Demons" with dread and malaise, but overall, Trouble Will Find Me does away with the menace that made High Violet's "Bloodbuzz Ohio" such a boot to the chest. Instead, the new record hits the hardest with "Heavenfaced" and "Humiliation," in which devastation creeps in, then launches a surprise attack.