Nada Surf has made a strong return with their new album which holds some of the best material we've heard from them in a while. From the very start of album opener 'Clear Eyed Cloud Minded' the feel is faster, more raw and rocky than their previous record "Lucky" (not including the covers album "If I Had A Hi-Fi"); in fact it harks back more to their "Proximity Effect" days with jangly guitars, fast drums and punchy power pop melodies topped off with Caws' infectious and sing-along vocal lines. There are still some more gentle moments of course, with tracks like 'When I Was Young' which starts softly, with a dreamy skin-tingling quality, before breaking loose into a catchy repeated vocal riff with foot stomping beats.
A new Nada Surf album is something of an event in my household and it has quite a lot to do with the band's ability to pen so many catchy tunes with heart, and this album is packed with them. Even the growers quickly root themselves firmly in your head, becoming favourites before you realise it. Tracks like 'The Moon Is Calling' and 'Waiting For Something' trip along at a danceable pace and soar with uplifting but rocky choruses. There is always that extra something though; the odd touch of heart-felt melancholia, which gives that perfect, emotionally satisfying combination you expect from the Surf.
The only real issue with this particular record may be that it doesn't break any new ground for the band. They have had moments over the years where they've tried new approaches but this certainly isn't one of those records, which makes it one that existing fans will really appreciate, but it does also mean it might not draw new ones; as no matter how catchy those tunes are, they tread familiar territory.