It’s hard out here for veteran bands. For those of us that grew up on the Alligator to High Violet run, it went without saying that the bands who’d paved the way prior had passed their prime, but our artists? Inconceivable. You just didn’t think about it.

In reality, The National have been together for twenty years. The Beatles would have broken up a decade ago. The Rolling Stones were recording Undercover. Hell, Coldplay had devolved from the relative charm of their early releases to working with the damn Chainsmokers in about the same amount of time. Need we really continue?

They may not quite have matched High Violet since, but The National have done their damndest to fight time. Trouble Will Find Me had ‘I Need My Girl’ (along with other gems), and needed little else to gain love. Sleep Well Beast never quite captured my interest, but at the least, it was certainly trying. The National still had gas in the tank, and were happy to try on new ideas for size.

All that seems to have changed with I Am Easy to Find. One can’t imagine just what happened to the band in the past two years, perhaps they simply should have taken some more time off to allow inspiration to come, but they've arrived early, and on autopilot. Perhaps it was the ostentatious recording cycle (New York, Paris, Berlin, Dublin, the list goes on), but this is The National playing at being The National, starting with skeletal rubrics of what they “should” sound like, and not bothering to go much further. They’ve been many things, but never complacently dull.

Yet there’s no other way to describe I Am Easy to Find, whose sole original idea seems to be, “Uh...throw female voices on it.” Indeed, the talented likes of Lisa Hannigan and Sharon Van Etten attempt to breathe life into affairs, but there’s no resuscitating a creature that never breathed to begin with. No less, they for some reason decided to draw this death rattle out across their longest album to date, blindly moping through an inexplicably sixty-three minute run time.

Along with seemingly the entire music loving world, being a longtime fan of The National, I’ll never forget the realization that a dependable gang had finally, truly mad a bad album. Hosting a cookout with pals, I Am to Easy to Find plopped unexpectedly into my inbox. Excitement! Elation! Sorry, Boogie, the speakers are being commandeered. The pals circled, equally eager to get their little sneak peek.

Perhaps twenty minutes passed, and we began to realize: this was boring, and it just wouldn’t allow itself a mercy killing. It just kept going. Those 63 minutes managed to feel akin to a recent Peter Jackson feature. Vibes crashed, hopes were dashed, burgers went cold, and it would take the carefree glee of DJ Jenifa to rekindle the fun. I Am Easy to Find may finally answer the question as to when The National would outlive their shelf life, but it nearly killed a party. Don’t let it kill yours.