Feb 102012

Surfing on Nothing

My first exposure to Nada Surf (viz. Matthew Caws – vocals/guitar, Daniel Lorca – bass/vocals and Ira Elliot – drums) arrived in the form of a review CD of its second album, The Proximity Effect. The moment I played opening track – the propulsive “Hyperspace” – I was quite properly blown away! You could say that since then I’ve been hooked and have religiously followed the fortunes of this awesome trio. Every subsequent album has maintained (and sometimes even outperformed) the high standards set by The Proximity Effect.

Ironically enough, I was never too enamored with the band’s debut hit album – High/Low – produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek and containing the quirky hit single “Popular”. I suppose I lumped the band together with all the Nirvana wannabes that crawled out of the woodwork in 1996. Unfortunately for the band, label woes/legal problems delayed the release of The Proximity Effect independently before the band settled with noted indie Barsuk Records for its magnificent third album – Let Go.

Back in 2002, this is what I wrote – “Let Go is the masterpiece that Nada Surf has been promising to deliver and comes at a time where rock ‘n’ roll requires reinvention without sacrificing the basic foundations of melody and passion. Whilst eclecticism is always to be prized, Let Go does not stray too far from the folk-infused arousing power rock that Nada Surf excels in. In my conclusion, I compared Let Go to Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head (!) – yes, that line looks quite ridiculous now in hindsight!

The Weight is a Gift followed in 2005 and kept up the momentum with heartfelt, sensitive, sophisticated songwriting that highlighted Caws’ gorgeous tenor. However, in my view, it was with 2008 release Lucky that Nada Surf finally confirmed its heavyweight status as artists with an album that rocketed into my albums of the year without difficulty. My review simply gushed non-stop pausing to describe Lucky as “perfection”.

The band itself paused in 2010 to deliver a covers only album – If I Had A Hi-Fi - before finding the impetus recently to come up with yet another cracking instant classic – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy – managing to salvage some of the propulsion of earlier material (check out the driving opener “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” and marrying these elements to the emotional weight of latter years. In songs like “Waiting for Something”, “When I Was Young” & “Jules and Jim”, the best of the 60s meets the 90s and and that is a potent combination!

Over the course of six albums, Nada Surf has proven conclusively that it is the ‘real deal’, oblivious to the hip and cool trends that come and go and concentrating on producing some of the best indie pop-rock of the past decade. Every album – from The Proximity Effect onwards – is highly recommended and you are guaranteed hours of pleasurable music listening.

Official Site 


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