When people are surprised that your band is still around, you’re officially unfashionable. People have been surprised that Nada Surf are still a band for years – it’s over a decade-and-a-half since their MTV hit single “Popular”. Still, they’ve been having some second generation success since 2005’s acclaimed The Weight Is a Gift, including 2008’s follow-up Lucky (QRO review) and 2010’s covers record, If I Had a Hi-Fi (QRO review). And why not? Nada Surf’s bright indie-rock might be unfashionable these days, but it’s still great on latest The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.
Nowhere is this more so than with Stars opener “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” (whose lyrics also give the record its title), as it is both rockin’ and affectin’ in a classic indie-rock way. Single/following track “Waiting For Something” keeps that going (if not quite as top-notch), and the back half of the album hits the nail on the head with such songs as “Teenage Dreams” (even if the band haven’t been teenagers for ages…), “Looking Through”, and closer “The Future”. It’s the kind of fuzzy-bright sound you heard a lot in the nineties, but now people overlook in favor of ‘chillwave’ or ‘post-dubstep’ or whatever.
Admittedly, Stars does suffer when Nada Surf quiet down. The lighter touch keeps “Waiting” from being as good as “Clear Eye”, and the subsequent “When I Was Young”, “Jules and Jim”, and “The Moon Is Calling” are all nice indie-strums, but kind of underwhelming. Only the later “Let the Flight Do the Fighting” makes it work, in a relaxed/restrained way.
Numerous alt-acts from the eighties & nineties are getting second lives, as their fans have matured & increased in spending power. Nada Surf never left & came back (though there were label troubles), there’s no reunion tour – just a strong band continuing to do what they unfashionably do best.
MP3 Stream: “Clear Eyed Clouded Minded“