Nada Surf delivers another sweet piece of alt-pop on their latest release, Lucky. After enduring the highs and lows of major-label involvement early on in their career (including an MTV hit single, “Popular”, and having to wrest their sophomore LP, The Proximity Effect, from label Elektra), the New York three-some has been stably creating some enchanting indie music. Nada Surf don’t reinvent themselves on Lucky, but it sounds great, just the same.
The new album opens on a high note with the pretty melancholy of “See These Bones”, which expands into the orchestral, the epic. Lucky is certainly a ‘pretty’ record – sometimes that does mean a sacrifice in terms of complexity, but it never gets too cute or twee. There’s a swinging sweetness to the pop-nice “Whose Authority”, while “Weightless” goes into fuzzy indie-pop. Meanwhile, “Here Goes Something” is a sunny neo-Beatles strum, and “Are You Lightning?” goes for the slow indie-country.
However, Nada Surf is best when they are catchy, such as with the winning alt-pop of single “I Like What You Say”. That’s followed up by the speedier alt-pop of the more expansive “From Now On”, and the alt-country-pop strum of “Ice on the Wing”. Lucky finishes out on a bit of a different note, first with the reverbing echo of the penultimate “The Fox”, which gets better as it goes from low to high, growing in size. Unfortunately, ender “The Film Did Not Go ‘Round” (written by fellow New Yorker, and current Nada Surf opener, Greg Peterson) doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of Lucky, its slow, stripped, choral nature more akin to a hymn.
While Nada Surf did recover from their ‘dance with (major-label) devil’, they haven’t been the most prolific band, releasing only one album every three or four years. However, they’ve always delivered on their promise, and Lucky is no exception.