The National's new album ought to be a hoot. That's a somewhat-wild extrapolation based on an interview late last month with drummer Bryan Devendorf, who revealed, "The tone will sound super serious but what [frontman Matt Berninger is] singing is actually funny."
The Brooklyn band has already been previewing songs from Trouble Will Find Me live in concert, including three tunes during a secret show last week in Berlin. But now via Pitchfork comes the first studio track from the LP (out in North America on May 21 via 4AD), "Demons" — and the improved audio quality allows the National's refreshingly invigorated sense of humor to emerge more clearly. "I'm going through an awkward phase / I am secretly in love with / Everyone that I grew up with," Berninger deadpans in his familiar baritone.
There's nothing "awkward" about the baroquely morose midtempo art-rock on display here, which should continue to delight fans of 2010's High Violet. But the dry and witty self-deprecation is a pleasing reminder that the National don't take themselves too seriously — just their work.
Hear the song above in a video made up of time-lapse footage of a chalk artist recreating the album's striking cover art.