Monday, January 21, 2008
rewind: Nada Surf
That's right kids, Nada Surf. Yep, the same band that sang the mid-nineties teenage anthem "Popular" (whose video was filmed at Bayonne High School). Nope, we're not talking about '90's alt, although we probably should, this Delorean is set on traveling back to '02/'03 when Nada Surf came out of nowhere to release a power pop gem in the vein of Big Star's #1 Record.
One of the things that always struck me about Let Go is it's relative lack of innovation. Don't get me wrong I'm all for innovative thinking of all sorts, but this is something different. Nada Surf aren't inventing a genre, or experimenting with studio theatrics or piling on Phil Spector layers of sound, no none of that is present on Let Go. What you'll find here are catchy, hook laden pop songs thrown over mildly distorted power chords and glowing harmonies. Sound familiar, it should, as this is what was played on the radio when we were kids, when terrestrial radio still mattered. Let Go is pop music for kids who hate pop music, kids raised on Tripping Daisy and Veruca Salt, kids who used to rent Sonic Youth albums from their public libraries and kids who still rock out to the Smashing Pumpkin's "Cherub Rock." It's oddly nostalgic for years not so far gone, yet still representative of post-millenial shifts in the musical landscape. The record kicks off with the "Blizzard of '77", a short story documenting the neurotic boredom of one stuck in a figurative blizzard, a place your just not sure how to get out of. Not to mention the lyrics which reflect on a youthful drug experience ("In the blizzard of 77 the cars were just lumps on the snow/ and then later, tripping in 7-11 the shelves were stretching out of control"). "Happy Kid" could've been sandwiched between Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" and Chavez's "Unreal is Here" on a mythical Maxell XL-II mix tape from your youth. Personally, I think that's a damn good thing.
While many have hailed Let Go as an under rated masterpiece from a band almost everyone had written off, I was stunned to see that the rating mongers at Pitchfork(3.8) chose to exercise their critical backwash by urinating on a record that 5 years later is as catchy and bouncy and exciting as it was when I was a fresh faced 18 year old bound for college. Any review that spends more than half it's time shit talking a band's efforts from 7 years prior, and limits the album under review to a few worthless bullet points isn't really worth reading anyway. Another reason why you shouldn't always listen to P4K.
On a positive note, peep a few tracks from Let Go and judge for yourself.
Nada Surf- Blizzard of '77
Nada Surf- Blonde on Blonde
Nada Surf- Happy Kid