Sunshine On My Back comes from the Trouble Will Find Me sessions and includes singer Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals. It stays within the same sort of sound that they’ve been running with for their career, though this will hardly come as a surprise. With some solid drumming and simplistic guitar as well as some strings, they write a song that I’m surprised they didn’t stick on Trouble Will Find Me as a replacement for one of the sleepier tracks. Matt Berninger returns with his sad, drunken-regret voice with all your favourite sad lyrics such as ‘Tina loves the violence of living in the country / she likes that it’s so far from me’ and ‘Sunshine in my brain / is the lonely kind of pain’. The National have always liked their loneliness and ‘Sunshine On My Back’ doesn’t exactly veer from their favourite subject.
‘Sunshine On My Back’ claims to have Sharon Van Etten providing backing vocals, though it is very hard to try and catch this. You can’t just stick Sharon Van Etten, one of the most tearjerking singers of modern times so low in the mix that you can’t even hear her. It’s a waste of talent when she could be doing something similar to Thom Yorke on ‘Beautiful Feeling’ by PJ Harvey, yet she’s barely recognisable on this track. ‘Sunshine On My Back’ is a safe song from the National, it could easily have fit on Trouble Will Find Me and shows that the National probably want to keep going with their 3AM, drunk man soundtracks. There’s nothing wrong with where the National are, they are the best at what they do, but ‘Sunshine On My Back’ is hardly the surprise drop of the year so far.