REVIEW: The National - Trouble Will Find Me


A young man of about 17 wanders down the hallway with a young lady that appears to be his girlfriend. They wear skinny jeans that look like they come from a thrift store but actually cost $89 at Urban Outfitters. They wear neon 80s sunglasses even though the room is actually pretty dark. As they wander down the hallway (in slow motion), a soft acoustic guitar kicks in, followed by a tambourine. The young man (MATT) begins singing to the girl, JENNY.


Learn to appreciate the void…you should know me better than that.

(He continues to say “you should know me better than that” for four minutes.) He’s so achingly sincere that he makes every stomach within five miles tighten with pure emotion.



MATT wanders down the street, in different skinny jeans and different colored sunglasses (even though it’s night). Time has passed, and MATT has broken up with JENNY. A dull, repetitive beat kicks in, the musical equivalent of a tension headache. MATT skulks down the street, letting us know he stays “down with his demons”:


When I walk into a room, I do not light it up. Fuck.

It’s simply amazing what a deep thinker this young man is. The sadness that he feels over the loss of JENNY is palpable. He’s such a tragic figure that the audience simply wants to throw their arms around him and try to make everything better. But before they can, he picks up his pace. A new song kicks in – it has potential to be something other than a meandering piece of crap. But no, it’s just an amped up version of the same tired two chord formula.


I have only two emotions, careful fear and dead devotion. I can’t get the balance right.

Wow. Anyone who doubted the depth of our hero has been thoroughly convinced. This is a man with some intense insight into his own emotion. Some men just sing as if they’re the most important person in the world – this character seems to truly believe it, and we can’t help but agree. What could have broken him? What tragic act could have so injured his soul? We flash back to:


MATT and JENNY sit in MATT’s parent’s Audi. The dashboard lights are off, and MATT is illustrating the level of his depth to JENNY.


You tell me you’re waiting to find someone who isn’t so hopeless. But there’s no one.

Dear GOD, we think, WHY CAN’T SHE LOVE HIM? He’s so emotive! He continues:


Jennifer you are not the only one that sits awake until the wild feelings leave.

Wow, he’s saying he’s just like her. He has managed to finally say something about someone other than himself, and yet at the same time have it actually be about him. It’s a paradox! We’re starting to wonder if maybe Matt isn’t a tad self-centered. We return to the present:


A clearly distraught MATT wanders the street yelling something about Harvard. No one really knows what he’s saying. But at least it’s loud. But then he remembers his beautiful JENNY. The loud potentially decent music stops and is replaced with yet another slow, meandering hipster ballad. MATT once again begins to mumble.


No one’s careful all the time. If you lose me, I’m gonna die.

The music stays soft. A cute, simple little guitar riff over a slow beat. MATT pauses and leans against a wall, angrily facing the ground. We can see the quiet angst in his face. He continues to sing.


Jenny, I am in trouble. Can’t get these thoughts out of me.

Again our hero is professing his love to JENNY yet also managing to make the sentiment mostly about him. It’s getting a little old to hear him sing about how shitty his life is. No wonder she left this asshole. Cut to:


MATT runs through the park (which looks a bit silly because he’s wearing skinny jeans, but not silly enough that we forget what a deep, tragic figure he is). A triple drumbeat kicks off a speedy song and we enter what looks like a training montage from an 80s movie. He runs all over the park talking about how he misses his love.


All my thoughts of you, bullets through rock and through, 

come apart at the seams, now I know what dying means.

“Now I know what dying means?” The audience wonders. You had a bad breakup and you’re comparing it to, say, being blown up by a terrorist bomb or killed in a tornado? We’re really starting to think that MATT is just a pretentious douchebag. Maybe he’ll shut the f@#$ up soon. But first, another flashback…


MATT sings to JENNY over a whiny, tremolo electric guitar, warning her that even though their love is bourgeoning, he is and always will be a sad, broken sack of a man.


I try to keep my skeletons in, I’ll be a friend and a fuck up,

but I’ll never be anything you ever want me to be.

God this guy’s a pretentious a-hole. F#$ him and his faux melancholia. But he keeps singing:


I don’t want you to grieve, but I want you to sympathize.

I got your sympathy right here you f#@#ing clown, the audience says, and walks out.