While they seem unassuming in person, The National have become one of the biggest bands in indie-rock, as well as one of the most ambitious. Thankfully, this has not meant weird left-turn excursions, but carefully planned expansions of their sound. This grows to its largest yet with the massive I Am Easy To Find.
Find has all the hallmarks of another great National record, like the resigned & sorrowful journey “Hairpin Turns”, the carrying “Rylan”, and the powerful & intimate tragedy “Light Years”. The Ohio-born band can’t go home again on the amazing “Not It Kansas” (referencing “listening to R.E.M. again,” a sure sign of nostalgia for those who came up in the eighties & nineties). But there’s also an interesting tech rhythm that actually adds to opener “You Had Your Soul With Me”. Of particular note is the skilled guest female vocalists like Lisa Hannigan and Sharon Van Etten, nicely matching singer Matt Berninger on duets such as “Oblivions”, “I Am Easy To Find”, and the powerful “Where Is Her Head”.
At sixteen tracks and over an hour in length, I Am Easy To Find is a long record, feeling longer thanks to the band’s slow delivery. Yet it’s hard to find what to take out, save perhaps two minute-plus interstitials and the oddly female vocal choral “Dust Swirls in Strange Light”. But this is an ambitious record – there’s even an accompanying short film by Mike Mills – from an acclaimed group that does ambition just right.