x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Nada Surf: The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy

The band's 18-year-old formula hasn't changed - it's an album of joyful, low-stakes pop rock.

Nada Surf
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
(City Slang Records)
****

It's a fair bet that if you watched MTV in the 1990s, you'll be familiar with Nada Surf's alt rock anthem Popular. With a video packed with cheerleaders and football jocks, the song came second only to Radiohead's Creep for encapsulating the decade's swell of teenage angst.

But despite the huge success of the single, the years that followed weren't always kind to the New Yorkers, who were plagued by label disputes and declining record sales. But some of the fault for the band's mid-career lull lay with the members themselves.

Albums such as Let Go and The Weight Is a Gift never managed to reproduce the energy of the group's spectacular live performances. The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, their seventh LP, attempts to correct this - and succeeds. The album bursts into life with power popper Clear Eyed Clouded Minded, and the pace is maintained on the later tracks Waiting for Something and Looking Through.

This is also the band's hookiest release for some years, noticeable not just on the rocking numbers, but the mellower ones, too. Let the Fight Do the Fighting shows singer Matthew Caws' songwriting at its most gorgeous and carefree, while When I Was Young manages to be both hugely introspective and wholly accessible.

The band's 18-year-old formula hasn't changed - it's an album of joyful, low-stakes pop rock. Yet by simply doing what they've always done, but with a little more energy, Nada Surf have proved they're not just worth keeping around, but worth celebrating too.

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