I Am Easy To Find in many ways is in step with what The National have done before; its sombre, melancholic and introspective, with a wide instrumental palate and plenty of catchy tunes thrown in.
And yet, I Am Easy To Find also finds new ways to progress The National’s formula. Glitchy electronic arrangements scatter across the substantial 16-song tracklist, with songs like the opening ‘You Had Your Soul With You’ warping and splicing guitar lines that dart in back and forth in the mix.
Meanwhile, a roster of female guest vocalists offer a pleasing counterpoint to Matt Berninger’s reserved tone as well as provide a refreshing change of pace between sections.
These exciting additions however do not subtract from the overarching sadness of the album: “I’m leaving to lie here in the quiet light”, sings Berninger, “while I watch the sky go from black to grey”.
However, the album seems to shine most when it steps away from sentimentality and embraces the mood that its added vocalists and ambitious instrumentation demands. Tracks like 'The Pull of You' take the feeling of heartbreak and melancholy and elevate them with fast drum shuffles and distorted guitar, injecting them with energy and pace.
Albums that exceed 12-or-so tracks usually fall to the charge of being bloated or long-winded, yet I Am Easy To Find manages to stay relatively consistent throughout. Some tracks may seem like unnecessary padding, like the interlude Underwater, but the majority of what the National offers is strong, even managing to end on stand-out track ‘Light Years’.
The National’s latest is an ambitious and, at times, strikingly powerful album. With engaging instrumentals and a new roster of vocalists, there is something here for seasoned and new listeners alike.