It must be difficult standing by your principles, getting dropped by your label, fighting back and marching on only to be sorely underrated. Such is the fate of Nada Surf. Sure you’ve heard of them, even if you think you haven’t, ‘Popular’ was their “one-hit-wonder” moment. Or perhaps you were drawn to their cover of ‘If You Leave’ by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark which featured on the hit American TV series The OC.
Now, more than 10 years later and still going strong, they release their seventh studio album The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. The riffs are still just as tight and melodious as the choruses, especially when it comes to tracks like ‘Teenage Dreams’ (where Matthew Caws claims “Sometimes I ask the wrong questions but I get the right answers”) and the more mellow ‘Let the Fight Do the Fighting’ which asks for things to take their natural course in life. Both are hooky and original and if you aren’t singing along to these gems you might as well give up on this band right now.
There is no song on this album which you could point to as rubbish, much like 2008s Lucky. The difference between that album and this one, however, is that although you can’t hate any songs, some of them don’t quite grab hold of you as well as they could. Lucky proved that they had their own solid brand of rock.
‘The Future’ begins promisingly but if you suddenly find the album has ended without you remembering how this track went, you wouldn’t be alone. The same can be said for ‘The Moon is Calling’ where the chorus and the verse seem to rub one another up the wrong way (a feeling which edges close on several other songs).
They seem to have accepted their sound for what it is and how it has shaped itself over the last decade. If you’re hoping for a return to the nerdy, scuzzy rock scene then don’t bother – it’s a label they’ve fought to shake off in a bid to maintain integrity.
Having bucked like a wild horse to shake that label, though, they have now found themselves stuck in some very middle-of-the-road alternative rock. No bad thing, because when they’re doing it well it almost sounds epic. Almost.
Picture Credit: chad050