NADA SURF Lucky (Barsuk)

As you can probably guess, I listen to quite a bit of modern pop-rock music. Have been doing so for almost thirty years now. I find that in the advancing years, as the number of album releases increases, the quality of albums is dropping at an alarming rate. I suppose that’s to be expected. So, when I hear an album that is actually head and shoulders above the deluge, then I take note! 

So far, this year there are only a handful of albums that I can honestly say have truly caught my attention. Sure, there have been some enjoyable fun releases with a couple of good songs but precious few that have been worthy of re-listening from start to finish. Well, Lucky is definitely one of them.

Yes, two paragraphs before I even mention its name, and that’s because I have really no idea how to do justice to this sublime effort with a review. Simply put Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca and Ira Elliot have outdone themselves this time. Which, considering the high standards set by their previous releases (viz. High/Low, The Proximity Effect, Let Go and the Weight is a Gift) is pretty astonishing. 

Let’s start at the end. An acoustic guitar is plucked and vibes are being played and Caws sings, “The shutter clicked but the film did not go round” with a sadness that is palpable and a melancholy country sentiment that is so fragile. Simple and yet effective, there’s no need to overplay the emotion as a string quartet embellishes the mournful tone. Perfection.

Perfection – that sums up Lucky – from the moment the rhythm section gets into gear on the opening “See these Bones” and rises ever upwards till Caws yearns in falsetto – “Do you remember when the line was blown/Do you remember when it fell”, there’s no denying the creative power that the band seeming conjures from nowhere. Or there’s the sharp chorus of Whose Authority, anthemic, uplifting, a declaration- “On whose authority? I have none over me!”

It goes on and on. The hypnotic allure of Beautiful Beat (“Get me out of despair”), the jaunty humor of Here Goes Something (love that toy piano!), the ethereal coda to Weightless, the cosmic americana of Are You Lightning?, the exploding energy of I Like What You Say, the powerpop posturing of From Now On and on and on and on…

Sometimes, it truly bugs me when lesser talents like Coldplay hog the limelight when the genius of Nada Surf continues to be marginalised but I guess that just means that those of us in the know are … Lucky!

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