Nada Surf – “The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy” (2012, Barsuk)
Reviewer: Matt Sanderlin
They say, “The seventh time is a just as wonderfully charming as the last three or four or six times.” Or something to that effect.
Nada Surf, the unsung heros of indie pop/rock, have been cranking out magnificently well-crafted tunes since 1992. With charting singles across their now expansive discography (such as “The Inside of Love,” “See These Bones” and “Always Love”), Nada Surf has never failed to satisfy their fans. And who are their fans? Listeners who love melodic, introspective, Sunday-colored tunes.
The band’s seventh release, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, is a fierce renewal of energy, hope, peace, and understanding. Where Let Godoubted the darkness, Stars embraces the dawning light of hope, and seizes it with youthful vigor.
Take for example: the album’s opening piece, “Clear Eye Clouded Mind.” The racing pitter-patter of the drums instantly pillars the busy sonic atmosphere, which is then shaded in by a dark, woodsy, jade, guitar pigment – As the bass swoops in with deep blues and wild rose tints. Leader Matthew Caws’s distinct voice fuses prominently with the textures — ”The stars are indifferent to astronomy / And all that we think we know.” Amongst the “transition,” and “clouded”-ness, Caws is able to preach passionately and profoundly and acknowledge how small we are in even our own universe.
“The Future,” the album’s final track, is a parallel track in a way — Boasting relevant observations (“The future has long lines / The future looks like a screen”) while still admitting human inability of universal control (“I cannot believe / The future’s happening to me”). Wise words to a stellar melody – What more could one ask for?
The album’s eight other tracks are equally as energetic and magical — “Waiting for Something” is instantly memorable and infinitely artistic; “The Moon is Calling” is a cascade of belt-out-loud melodies and a page of discussion-ready lyrics; and “Jules and Jim” is a majestic, acoustic-based opus with plenty of great melodies to go around. There is literally something for everyone here, and the pacing of the track-listing doesn’t hesitate much throughout the record in the meantime.
The arrangements are impeccable, the production is perfectly balanced (mostly raw, with a hint of timeless hi-fi), and the tunes are well-constructed. Should you buy this album? Yes (x10).