Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Nada Surf have always had an ace in Matthew Caws’ voice. It’s as large and beautiful as a frozen lake, cold in tone but warming to observe. With his ongoing love of distant space lyrics and earth-bound melancholia, Nada Surf heat others by noting a universal sadness. Here, the voice bends and flits through minor chords and major ascents, electric-pop guitar riffs and flattened floor toms to create the majesty of cardboard castles.
Nada Surf celebrate their 20th anniversary with The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, the band's seventh studio album and first collection of original material since 2008's Lucky. "Every birthday candle that ever got blown out is one more year of someone trying to figure it all out," Matthew Caws sings in "Looking Through," a song about aging gracefully and holding onto one's youth. Most of the other tunes follow suit; "No Snow on the Mountain" finds its narrator coming to grips with the real world after leaving academia, and "Teenage Dreams" deals with...
Nada Surf have managed to squeeze in several lives over the course of almost two decades together. They’ve been called one-hit wonders, sophomore slumpers, dead-and-goners, and have emerged relatively unscathed to find themselves in the year 2012. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that guitarist-vocalist Matthew Caws knows his way around a pop hook or two.
I don’t think many will disagree that Nada Surf are not the most elegant musically or eloquent lyrically. It would be worse to argue that they’ve been progressively thought-provoking or original. The usual protocol for a Nada Surf album has been determining the ratio of hits and misses. There’s probably no greater example of this jagged track list than 2002’s Let Go, and album that at once contains some really good songs (opener Blizzard of ’77 is still a favorite) and some throwaways (um … La Pour Ca?).
Since their 1996 debut, Nada Surf has seen its status change with each album. Their hit single “Popular” failed to garner the band any longterm mainstream success, which they shrugged off with the release of 2002’s Let Go. But through all their stages — from MTV cameos to indie heroes — frontman Matthew Caws’ gift for melody has remained firmly intact, allowing the band to churn out solid record after solid record.
Review Summary: Age is just a number.It’s a bit counterintuitive, but early 40-somethings Nada Surf seem to be growing less and less jaded and cynical as the years wind by. They were big once, properly alternative-rock-radio big with 1996’s snarky hit “Popular,” and the only place it got them was the one-hit wonder section in your local FYE’s bargain bin. That is so often the problem with novelty hits, which the spoken-word, eminently contemptuous “Popular” obviously was, and Nada Surf have since made a career out of being the most earnest band in indie.
NADA SURF play the Opera House April 4. See listing. Rating: NNN Since the surprise 1996 success of their Weezeresque hit Popular and subsequent shortlived dalliance with a major label, Nada Surf have carved out a career as an indie power-pop band with a cult fan base. Their seventh album shows them to be consistently good - though perhaps unambitious - songwriters despite not getting much attention for it.
Nada SurfThe Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy[Barsuk Records / City Slang; 2012]By Alex Phillimore; February 6, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetFor fans of New York alternative rockers, Nada Surf, 2010 must have been something of a disappointing year. Whereas 2008 yielded Lucky, 2010 saw Nada Surf release If I Had A Hi-Fi, an album made up entirely of cover songs. Whilst there's nothing wrong with covers, it's often contentious for fans who come to expect an album of original material every couple of years to have to wait four.
The value of a good, catchy rock song is a timeless one. There’s something to be said for an intricate, complicated piece of music, but there are some days where a straightforward, hummable track hits the spot just right. As popular music’s history has progressed, there have been trends in both the catchy and complicated that have interweaved with each other, but prior to the late 1960s, the music that dominated the airwaves and the grooves of vinyl records were individual, catchy tracks.
Nada Surf have managed a couple of feats in their two-decade-long career that might make any indie rock band envious: They broke out with a ubiquitous (if novelty) hit on MTV and alt-rock radio at a time when those were still the only channels by which to do so and, perhaps more importantly, they quietly outlived that popularity to score a second act as sweetly unassuming indie rock underdogs. On 2002's Barsuk release Let Go, Nada Surf re-emerged as the little brother to label-mates Death Cab For Cutie-- the sophomoric 1990s angst swapped out for more deliberate melodies and softer arrangements both timely, as that brand of indie rock was beginning to take over, and timeless. A decade later, soft-touch "indie adult contemporary" has become 2011's agreed-upon national wallpaper, and Nada Surf are attempting to make some noise.
A sixth LP proper that’s perhaps better titled Bands Are Indifferent to Change. Martin Aston 2012 The Guardian’s recent claim that indie rock is suffering a slow and painful death (underlined by Official Charts Company figures showing that pop albums just outsold rock albums for the first time in seven years) at least makes a change from the Rock Is Dead debate that reappears with comet-style regularity. But when you’re not Radiohead (and at a pinch, the retro-themed Horrors), there’s enough evidence that few guitar bands have reinvention on the agenda.
It’s gotten to that time in the decade where it seems we’re due a 90s revival, so on the catwalks expect to see crop tops, heroin chic, and the reappearance of Doc Martens, and in music, expect to see a rehashing of the overarching music trends of the decade. It already seems there’s a tentative grunge revival underway; the greatest band of that era, Soundgarden, have reformed and are one of the major acts playing at this summer’s Download festival, to huge anticipation. Pearl Jam-soundalikes, Stone Temple Pilots, are planning to an extended reissue of their landmark 1992 debut ‘Core’, and now Pearl Jam themselves are visiting these shores with a handful of concerts later this year.