Tonight: free acoustic Nada Surf performance at Aquarius Records
March 21, 2012
Written by Ben Van Houten
Below, you can read Aquarius’ glowing review of the band’s latest album, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.
We might as well just start out with the obvious. Pop record of the year. Hands down. We knew it would be. And yeah, even in January, it’s pretty much already been decided. In fact the minute we found out there was a new Nada Surf record on the horizon, we began to count the days, and wonder if it would be one of those slow growers, or if we’d be immediately obsessed (it was the latter, btw). And really, one of the only reasons it’s not Record Of The Week, is because it just so happened to come out when we already had an embarrassment of ROTW’s picked, but rest assured, for some of us, this is most definitely Record Of The Week, and most likely record of the year too.
Most people are probably super excited to extol the virtues of their favorite band, or that record they’ve been anxiously awaiting, and we are too obviously, but for us it comes with the added pressure of ‘what the hell do we say about this’, especially when it’s a band whose records we’ve gushed about extensively in the past, two of those records past Records Of The Week in fact, we’ve said it before, but this is one of those records where we just want the whole review to be “Just buy it! it’s so great! We love it and can’t stop listening to it! We’ve been driving the not-so-pop-obsessed around here CRAZY with repeated listens, sometimes just setting the cd player on repeat!” And heck, for some of you that will be enough, if you dug the last few Nada Surf records, which loads of you did, you’ll love this one too. We want to say it’s the best one yet, but we say that every time. We can say, it’s maybe the most rocking one yet. With a lot few slower songs, and some of their heaviest tunes, but without sacrificing any of the lush hookiness or irresistible jangle. We’d say just listen to the samples, cuz we really can’t imagine anyone being able to resist, but on the off chance that you do need more…
Nada Surf have moved well beyond potential one hit wonder status, after the ubiquitous MTV airplay of a certain song called “Popular” back in the nineties (YouTube it), and ever since, they’ve continued to hone a sound rooted in classic power pop and nineties indie rock, a sound that quickly became all their own, lush and melodic and jangly, with Matthew Caws’ super distinctive vox, and a melodic flair and impeccable songwriting that eventually became just as distinctive, their lyrics clever and smart, literate and carefully constructed, harmonies lush and lovely, songs that rock as much as they drift and shimmer, every record packed with potential hits, not a bit of filler, and this new one is no different. Opener “Clear Eye, Clouded Mind” starts things off with a bang, thick crunchy guitars, big pounding drums, and some impossibly catchy melodies, and like many of their tracks, the verse and bridge are just as catchy as the chorus, if not more so. “Waiting For Something” is another killer, all chiming and sunshiney, crunchy and fuzzy, big guitars, and even bigger vocals, all woven into a super dynamic arrangement that manages to be both intricate and hooky as hell. “When I Was Young” starts off all folky and balladic, just steel string guitar and gorgeous vox, eventually blossoming into a big crunchy jangly second half, “Jules And Jim” is another great one, the band taking unlikely melodies and complex arrangements and impossibly transforming them into pure perfect pop. We could go song by song, cuz every song here KILLS, everyone with a chorus most other bands would kill for, and most likely a verse that other bands would make into a chorus, but odds are we’d just end up repeating ourselves. But we can say, which we’ve mentioned before, is that as much as we obsess over grim black metal and noisy chaotic heaviness and weird dronemusic and all that sort of far out freaky stuff, we find ourselves always coming back to this, and NOT just because it’s poppy and catchy, but because it’s poppy and catchy in a way that so much other ‘catchy pop’ is NOT. Sure these guys are a pop band, but what they do with that pop is utterly magical.
It’s at this point that we DO say, just listen to the sound samples, this is the sort of visceral emotional music that will connect right away, and if you’re anything like us, once you hear it, you won’t want to stop hearing it, and you’ll want to hear more and more!