As a huge Nada Surf fan (not counting their brief tenure as Elektra recording artists), I have come to regard the band as one of the more consistently dependable indie rock forces to be reckoned with since the release of their 2002 Barsuk Records debut Let Go, which was chock full of their hooky brand of jittery, yet esoteric brand of guitar pop, but also contained the absolute gem "Inside of Love".
Of course, it was Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla's production that helped the band define a sound that was remarkably potent without needing to compete in the Pro Tools "loudness war" of the day and allowed Matthew Caws plaintive vocals to dominate the proceedings, as they should.
The Weight Is A Gift (also produced by Walla) followed in 2005, adding "Always Love", "Do It Again" and "Concrete Bed" to their growing canon of should-be hits. It was at this point that Caws must have felt a desire to return to the distorto-rock of their Elektra days, leading the band to work with producer John Goodmanson for 2008's Lucky.
"See These Bones" was chosen as first single when the far superior "Beautiful Beat" would have made so much more of an impact at radio, for what that's worth. The rest of the album tends to fall into a samey-sounding rut that, while not bad, was a bit alarming to the band's fanatical fan base.
After serving up the all-covers If I Had A Hi-Fi in 2010, the band teamed up with Weezer Blue Album engineer Chris Shaw to record The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, an album that proved this writer to be suddenly indifferent to the charms of Nada Surf.
Trust me, I was as alarmed as you are because, on paper, it should have been a great time to be a Nada Surf fan because Chris Shaw is one of the absolute best rock engineer/producers working today. Sadly, the album's material seemed half baked and none of the songs hooks managed to stick in the brain the way they had on previous efforts.
Upon catching them promoting that album during SXSW that year, the band's live performances showed a trio that seemed, well, out of gas. Caws then collorated with Juliana Hatfield under the name Minor Alps while releasing an album of Nada Surf B-Sides in 2014 as well as live album in 2015, leading fans to wonder if Nada Surf's days were done.
Thankfully, the band's eighth studio album You Know Who You Are reveals that all chatter of the band's demise is premature and that, with the addition of ex Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard, the band is rejuvenated and eager to reclaim their title as indie-rock monoliths.
Much like those early ramones albums, a Nada Surf album never strays too far from the simple template of 2002's Let Go, although there are nods to psychedelia ("Gold Sounds") and 70's riff rock ("Animal) that prove the band is not above throwing the occasional curve ball and slider.
Most importantly, Caws vocal hooks are as sticky as ever, meaning that, despite your best attempts not to, you may just find yourself whistling a few of these cuts long after hearing them.