Two years after the release of their Grammy-winning album “Sleep Well Beast,” The National released a new single, announced their new album, announced tour dates and aired a trailer for a short film arriving with their 10th studio album, titled “I Am Easy to Find.”
Though the massive announcement was a pleasant surprise for fans, the reveal wasn’t totally out of the blue. These new releases were announced on Twitter March 5 after multiple prior posts had hinted at a new record. March 4, the band tweeted a picture of lead singer Matt Berninger and guitarist Aaron Dessner editing what looked like a tracklist. And Feb. 28, they tweeted dates for special events in Paris, London, New York, Toronto and Los Angeles. Before the Tweets alluding to a new record, Feb. 24, producer Peter Katis confirmed the album was finished recording in a now deleted press release, according to New Musical Express.
The National’s 2001 self-titled debut was a bare-bones, acoustic sound compared to what the band has put out recently. Following their first album, 2003’s “Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers,” 2004’s “Cherry Tree” and 2005’s “Alligator” brought more intricate guitar riffs, layered choruses and string orchestration, solidifying the signature National sound. Combining their early acoustics with a heavier indie sound, “Boxer” is considered to be the first widely popular album from The National with one of their biggest hits “Fake Empire.”
Those early 2000s records laid a foundation for “High Violet” and “Trouble Will Find Me,” the most mainstream albums garnering the highest praise from critics and fans. Rolling Stone gave “Trouble Will Find Me” the eighth spot on their coveted top 50 albums of the year for 2013. The following year, the band and was recognized with their first Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. Though “Trouble Will Find Me” lost the award to Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of The City,” The National later won the category award in 2018 for “Sleep Well Beast”.
If the new single “You Had Your Soul with You” is an indication of the upcoming album’s sound, we should expect a more playful, electronic spin of what the band did on “Sleep Well Beast.”
According to the released tracklist, the album kicks off with the lead single, “You Had Your Soul with You” and features 15 more songs. The single features legendary session vocalist and bass player Gail Ann Dorsey, most well known for her long collaborative relationship with David Bowie. The album features mostly female artists including Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan and Mina Tindle.
“Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn’t because, ‘Oh, let’s have more women’s voices,’ it was more, ‘Let’s have more of a fabric of people’s identities.’ It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn’t let that happen,” Berninger said in an interview after the announcement.
Featuring mostly female artists isn’t much of a surprise considering the accompanying short film. Directed by Mike Mills and starring Alicia Vikander, the 24-minute film aims to capture the life of a woman in 164 moments. The single cover and special evenings announcement art being mostly bright paintings, and the film trailer being in black and white promises a more stylized project from The National.
“I Am Easy to Find” arrives May 17, along with the short film of the same name. The National will perform in Philadelphia on their 47-date tour at The Mann Center June 11 with support from Courtney Barnett.