- The National
I Am Easy To Find: Heavyweight Vinyl 2LP
The National’s new album I Am Easy To Find is released on May 17th on 4AD. I Am Easy To Find is the band’s eighth studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s GRAMMY®-award winning release Sleep Well Beast. A companion short film with the same name will also be released with music by The National and inspired by the album. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated director Mike Mills (20th Century Women, Beginners), and starring Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander. Mills, along with the band, is credited as co-producer of the album, which was mostly recorded at Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY with additional sessions in Paris, Berlin, Cincinnati, Austin, Dublin, Brooklyn and more far flung locations. The album features vocal contributions from Sharon Van Etten, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Lisa Hannigan, Mina Tindle and more.
I Am Easy to Find is a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and a 68-minute album by the National. The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. The two projects are, as Mills calls them, “Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other”—they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don’t necessarily need one another. The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. The frontman and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically sidestaged in favour of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group’s orbit. It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they’ve created for much of their careers.
As the album’s opening track, ‘You Had Your Soul With You,’ unfurls, it’s so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger’s familiar baritone, mounting tension. Then around the 2:15 mark, the true nature of I Am Easy To Find announces itself: The racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of long-time David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out—not as background vocals, not as a hook, but to take over the song. Elsewhere it’s Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, or Sharon Van Etten, or Mina Tindle or Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, or varying combinations of them. The Brooklyn Youth Choir, whom Bryce Dessner had worked with before. There are choral arrangements and strings on nearly every track, largely put together by Bryce in Paris—not a negation of the band’s dramatic tendencies, but a redistribution of them.
“Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, ‘Oh, let's have more women's voices,’ says Berninger. “It was more, ‘Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities.’ It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen.”
- Vinyl LP