Nada Surf feelin’ ‘lucky’

Joe Shearer

barsuk records

Courtesy Barsuk Records

Credit: Ron Soltys

It’s understandable, and yet, debatable.

Ever since Nada Surf’s breakout hit, “Popular,” off its debut record, High/Low, the indie rockers have consistently strayed from that Weezer, geek-rock-inspired sound. That’s the understandable part. Most artists, especially those in the indie scene, are notorious for experimentation and developing their sound. Nothing wrong with that.

But it seems in its quest to become distinctive, Nada Surf has sacrificed some of its edge.

Arguably, the band reached the perfect medium between rock and a more mellow sound in its High/Low follow up, The Proximity Effect, with tracks like “Bacardi,” a song that balances so well its slow, dreamy verses, and up-tempo refrain and bridge.

The two albums that followed, Let Go and The Weight is a Gift, contained some beautifully written songs such as “Inside of Love,” “Do it Again” and “Always Love,” proving the band knows how to write great hooks with soothing instrumentation.

That’s not the issue. It seems with every new disc, a handful of songs are relatively uninteresting when compared to the stronger tracks typically found at the top of each release.

So, is Lucky, the band’s latest album, any different?

Not really. Nada Surf is one of those bands that releases unobtrusive records that fit nicely into the background of a friendly gathering falling short of party status. The music is good, but not something that always screams to be heard, which is more apparent on Lucky.

“See These Bones,” the opening track, sets the calm mood of the album. It’s somewhat climatic, beginning slow and dark and culminating into a flourishing array of string arrangements and longing vocals.

From there, the album slightly shifts gears with the uplifting “Beautiful Beat” and the acoustic, Beatles-inspired “Here Goes Something.”

A song called, “Are You Lightning,” epitomizes the album quite well. It begins with a promising opening riff — a nostalgic-feeling combination of piano and folksy guitar, but never quite lives up to that first impression.

Nada Surf is one of those bands you have to hear over and over to fully appreciate. Although some of the songs may not whack you over the head, go back and you’ll find something to appreciate, whether it’s beat changes or layers of vocals. These guys always saunter from laid back to rock out, delivering a certain, familiar charm with each new effort.

Contact all reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].