The National: I Am Easy To Find (4AD)

Hard on the heels (or so it feels) of 2017’s Sleep Well Beast comes album number eight from alt-rock poets laureate The National, the closest thing REM have to a natural heir – at least in sensibility: REM chose to embrace the stadium tour shtick but Matt Berninger and his Ohio five-piece are more suspicious of stardom and guard their privacy.

Likewise the dense, enigmatic lyrics, some written by Berninger’s wife, often deal with the close and the intimate; with connections made, broken or yearned for; with loss and regret. It’s no different here, with Berninger’s rich, close-miked baritone adding another layer of wistful emotion to standouts like Not In Kansas, Light Years, Roman Holiday and the title track.

One thing has changed: film-maker Mike Mills comes in to help with the creative process as do a slew of female guest vocalists, among them Gail Ann Dorsey and Sharon Van Etten. There’s even a choir. But those innovations aside, this is business as usual from The National: a suite of songs that are textured, stately, poignant, deep and memorable.