Track Review: The National – “Demons”

[4AD; 2013]

Somewhere within the deep, watery chasms of Matt Berninger’s mind, there’s a whole lot of hurt. It’s a bit paradoxical; he doesn’t strike you as the wounded warrior he makes himself out to be, but the gravity of his subject matter is so intense that you can’t help but believe he’s drawing from personal experience. The first cut we’ve heard from the National’s imminent sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, finds their singer in one of the most ruminative moods he’s ever been in. Between episodes of crying underwater and sleeping on the floor, he has time to offer some bleak, privy words: “I am secretly in love with everyone that I grew up with.”

At first glance, “Demons” sounds unremarkable, just another bottom-heavy arrangement from a band that has created nothing but for quite some time. Then you’ll notice the coiling string arrangement at the bridge, the warmth of Bryan Devendorf’s drums, the cleverly understated melody at the chorus, the contrast between optimism and acquiescence throughout. And just like that “Demons” becomes another reminder of why the National are masters of subtlety.

Trouble Will Find Me is out 5/20 via 4AD