Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are
New York alternative trio Nada Surf are back with their seventh album, You Know Who You Are, marking impressive staying power where many of their contemporaries have shuffled out of the business and into bargain bins, reality TV shows, or rehab.
They have a knack for arresting album titles, with their use of vaguely offbeat statements like The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (2012) and If I Had a Hi-Fi (2010) serving as a strong opening gambit for a band that is often shoehorned into the “alternative” bracket whilst offering music that defies, and sometimes transcends, that moniker.
The title here neatly packages the album’s themes, both musical and lyrical: it is a solid set of songs that roll along nicely, and there is a confidence running through the sound that belies their lyrics, which are preoccupied with the uncertainty of finding oneself and lost love.
New Bird sees them hit their stride with Foo Fighters-esque chord progression as Matthew Caws sings: “oh my family split in two / when my Dad after the war / said he didn’t worship with his parents anymore.” The production is clean and polished, but not overdone; the guitar has a slight warble, making for a warm, comfortable feel. Rushing is an acoustic number that gives the feel of a band that’s happy in its own skin but not looking to push any boundaries. Animal is so close to a Rolling Stones rip-off that it is difficult to ignore.
The titular You Know Who You Are jogs along with the same mild distortion and major tonality that also made Stereophonics and Cast indispensable late-90s bands, but it is hard to argue that there’s anything new here. Caws has a nose for a good lyric though, singing “my love for you gets multiplied, not divided / almost nothing is one-sided”. It’s simple, but it’s clever.
Needless to say, if listeners are looking for an album that rocks the boat, this is not it. However, for a reflective moment on a steady ship, anchored somewhere just offshore, perhaps with a nice breakfast to enjoy in the good weather, You Know Who You Are does the job – and that in itself is no mean feat.
You Know Who You Are is released on 4th March 2016, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Cold to See Clear here: