Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (City Slang)
January 23, 2012 by Fran Jolley
Their sixth proper studio album in fifteen years for Nada Surf isn’t the best return.But then the band have never had an easy ride, being mis- treated by major record labels until they finally found a welcome home on Barsuk. They still have the albatross of the world MTV hit of ‘Popular’ weighing them down, so they have found it hard to be recognised as anyone other than diet Weezer.
Fans of ‘The Proximity Effect’ or ‘Let Go’ would have discovered Mathew Caws’s ear for soaring melodies backed by a real blistering rhythm section. Like a North American Crowded House for the 00’s they have produced album after album of indie-pop songs catering for the masses but sadly only being played on student radio and your favourite online stations. With their new album they haven’t done a ‘Kid A’ but they have obviously tried to bring out their live sound into the studio. Where critics could point out that their previous efforts have become rather light weight in sound, Nada Surf have found their devil (maybe whilst listening to what inspired them during the making of their last covers collection ‘If I Had a HI-Fi’ ) ‘The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy’ shares the same thread as their last four releases but with the guitars pushed harder. ‘Clear Eye Clouded Mind’ shares more dynamics with modern Foo Fighter’s but of course with the usual Nada Surf harmonies; but by the time ‘Waiting for Something’ pulls into action, it’s a more obvious ride through the album. ‘When I was Young’ is this album’s ‘80 Windows’ and the more mature sounding track on offer. It’s hard to fathom that they are now into their forties but can still sing “ it’s never too late for teenage dreams” and they sound as fresh as they have always been , just with extra caffeine on ‘Looking Through’.
They will never be a world changer, but for a band to be going so long without a hit album is really down to the dedication that the band have for their music which they seem so in love with. They may never play Madison Square Garden but Nada Surf are just about making the soundtrack for your summer road trip and becoming an essential live act. They end by singing about the future , and with this being their best work since’ Let Go’ the future as Tom Petty once sung is “wide open”.