THE NATIONAL play Yonge-Dundas Square as part of NXNE on June 14. See listing. Rating: NNNN
The National are notorious for their melodrama, but that relatable combination of hope and devastation is what's made them accessible to droves of fans.
Their latest record - their sixth in 14 years - is reminiscent of 2007's Boxer, where Matt Berninger crooned about lost friendships, mortality, stalking an old love, heartbreak - the usual fodder of a band that's been dubbed "sleepy miserabilists."
That emotional intensity still looms, but Berninger seems at peace with it. With the help of swelling strings, moody guitar lines and Bryan Devendorf's decisive drumming, he pulls you into his narrative and releases you right at the climax. This move is the National's orchestral power play they've been practising for the past three albums. On Trouble Will Find Me, they've perfected it, knowing when a hook should explode and when to hold back and let Berninger's signature, sombre baritone take over.
Top track: This Is The Last Time