The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy by Nada Surf
Over the last two decades in the world of music, hair metal died giving way to the era of grunge, hip-hop turned gangsta and then was auto-tuned, radio stations appalled listeners with the sugar pop of boy/girl bands. Even rock morphed through different sounds, styles and hairdos. Many of these things simply represent the waves of change that ebb and flow throughout the music industry, but for the better part of the last two decades, Nada Surf ignored trends, refused to change and stuck with what works best: concise, consistent and straightforward rock and roll.
Many may only remember Nada Surf from their 1996 debut album, High/Low that featured the angst-ridden single, "Popular." Despite being known as a one-hit-wonder, the Brooklyn-based three-piece has since released six additional records including their highly acclaimed 2002 release, Let Go, 2010's courageous cover album, If I Had a Hi-Fi and their latest effort The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy.
The Stars delivers 10 tight tracks (only one track breaches the five minute mark) that tastefully blend big and gritty rock riffs with a softer, more acoustic style. Tracks one and two rope the listener with a delightful and predictable Nada Surf sound. Track three, "When I Was Young," slows things down a bit, but only at first. About halfway through the song crescendos into a big, powerful ending with a sound reminiscent of 90s Brit-rock bands The Verve and Oasis.
Midway through the album, the tracks "The Moon Is Calling" and "Teenage Dreams" blast through the speakers, almost pleading with the listener to remember to get up and follow their heart. "Looking Through" is a perfect allegory for the band's collective stories. Singer/guitarist, Matthew Caw's lyrics, "I really like it quite, but I really like it loud. Always changing. Never changing. Never can slow down," insightfully describe the band both musically and personally.
It may be easy to assume that an album by a three-piece band would sound hollow and stripped down, but that's simply not Nada Surf's style. Strings, horns and organ add depth to several tracks, swirling unassumingly around Caw's charming pop-rock hooks. Rich layers of guitars, paired with the tightly synced rhythm of drummer Ira Elliott and bassist Daniel Lorca, are mixed well, making each track a distinct and cohesive part of the whole.
During the album's final track, "The Future," Caw professes, quite sentimentally, "I cannot believe the future is happening to me," a probable retrospective that the band has come a long way, and the journey has been great.
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