CD Review: Nada Surf


By Taylor Toothman |

What do you mean you’ve never heard of Nada Surf? They were really “Popular” in the 90s, remember? Get it? “Popular?” They’ve been around since most of us were learning to read, taking their sweet time under the radar, honing their indie-pop rock craft into Lucky, the magnum opus fifth album they released in February.

You may be thinking, “Magnum opus? Really?” If you haven’t followed Nada Surf’s musical journey, you won’t understand how truly great it is. Their long struggle with record labels to get a U.S. audience has matured them into a group that only serious music listeners can appreciate. To an undiscerning ear, they may sound like your average guy rock group on the surface, but their lyrics and melodies are far better than anything played on pop radio. This is no Good Charlotte, folks.

The album’s opener, “See These Bones,” subtly warns wide-eyed, idealist bands of how easy it is to be sucked under by the music machine. However melancholy the lyrics, including the lines “look alive/ see these bones/ what you are now/ we were once/ and just like we are/ you’ll be dust,” Nada Surf’s catchy hooks make it all somehow uplifting.

“Whose Authority” is the Lucky single that will hopefully put the band back on the U.S. map. Europe has gotten to have Nada Surf almost solely to itself, and now it’s our turn again. Granted, their closest gig to St. Augustine will be Washington, D.C., and if I had an extra $700 for a plane ticket, cab fare, hotel and a front row ticket stub, I’d be so there.

My favorite is track three, “Beautiful Beat.” It’s upbeat and deliciously flows from macabre to uplifting in its finger-snapping four minutes. Lead singer Matthew Caws has affirmed an idea I’ve been saying for years: real music gets under your skin, and can make any crappy situation terrific.

The rest of the album continues to prove how much Nada Surf continues to evolve, which is why I love them and you should too. Lucky is nothing particularly revolutionary, but it’s heartfelt music at its best, and if you dig Nada Surf, check out Guster and other similarly wonderful musical geniuses.

What? Who’s Guster? You have so much to learn.

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