When a band releases their seventh album in well over a decade, you have to wonder, what’s left to prove? Those of you who’ve followed the endearing path of Nada Surf for the duration will find that The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is indicative of a band still willing to go out and have a blast in the studio; they’re completely willing to play to their strengths and bring you pure pop goodness.
While their last two outings might have come across as a bit subdued, Nada Surf has no intentions of resting on the middling ground of pop, so they bust forth with some of their most powerful tracks in years. “Clear Eyed Clouded Mind” jumps into your ears, pummeling forward, as much as the band is wont to do. Still, it’s Mathew Caws’ performance during the chorus that completely wins your heart over, just as he’s always done. They kick right into “Waiting for Something,” which comes across like a softer, but equally as powerful, Superchunk. Those guitar lines unleash melody after melody, accentuated by Caws. Surely, long-time fans, as well as newcomers, will hear the noticeable effort the band has created in putting these tracks together.
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy might have just the perfect balance in song order, kicking things off energetically, then pulling back just a little bit whilst maintaining a whole lot of fluidity. “Jules and Jim” has a chiming guitar intro before Caws goes off into personal reflection lyrically. Still, the slightest touches of detailing such as the faintest sound of bells and far off vocal accompaniment prove Nada Surf is still focused on providing listeners with a complete sound in each track. But for all that, this is very much a guitar-oriented record.
“Teenage Dreams” has a nice bit of guitar choppiness correlating to the stomping drums, before the song searches for steadier pastures. And then “Looking Through” bursts through with a quick paced bit of the purest pop, the likes that only Nada Surf seem to have mastered. But, as much the guitars play a starring role throughout, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy still holds dear to the tried-and-true principals the band has always stuck with: pop goodness. “Let the Fight Do the Fighting” is a return to the solemnity and melody that always drew me to the group. It sounds more polished than a lot of the other tracks, and the accompaniment of strings only serves to emotionally impact the listener. Pop music’s not supposed to be hard; it’s supposed to be good–this definitely falls into that category.
Whether you’re a long time fan or a newbie, Nada Surf are one of the few bands that have always seemed to offer up perfect albums. They write pop songs you can sing to; they give you hooks you can sink your teeth into; and their albums will still be enjoyed years after your favorite current fad is gone. Such is the power of great songwriting, the sort that’s present for the entirety of The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/03-When-I-Was-Young-1.mp3]
Download:Nada Surf – When I Was Young [MP3]