‘Indifferent’ to Nada Surf
The dreamy haze of 1990s ethos is a big seller in today’s indie music scene, with bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Dum Dum Girls capitalizing on the nostalgia for a peaceful era, a lost sense of Americana and a time when MTV actually played music videos.
1996 was a particularly momentous year in the music industry. The Beatles released “Real Love,” Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose in San Francisco, Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas, Weezer released “Pinkerton,” Modest Mouse released “This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About,” Wilco released “Being There” and “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis was a top hit.
In June of 1996, New York- based indie rockers Nada Surf released their debut album “High/Low,” which spawned the break out hit single and summer anthem, “Popular.” Nearly two decades later, Nada Surf is still here. They released their seventh album, “The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy,” on Jan. 24.
There’s nothing wrong with this album on first listen. It’s upbeat, and though many songs dwell on themes of youthful disillusionment and teenage angst, this album tries its best to be fun — striving for a second run at popularity.
“All I feel is transition / When do we get home? / All I feel is transition / Now to be alone / With a clear eye, with a clouded mind … The stars are indifferent to astronomy / And all that we think we know / Mars will salute your autonomy / But he doesn’t need to know,” sings Matthew Caws, lead singer of Nada Surf, on the opening track, “Clear Eye Clouded Mind.”
Unfortunately, the album is hampered by this kind of juvenile song writing. In their effort to recapture that mid-’90s nostalgia, Nada Surf falls into the abyss of irrelevance. Instead of evoking memories of a better time, and exploring the consequences of the disintegration of that optimism, “The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy” comes across as musically trite. Worst of all, even though the album tries so earnestly to rekindle the youthful excitement from “Popular,” it all comes across as Jimmy Eat World-lite, an outdated mess that sounds like the worst of an ink smudged, tear-stained, teen breakup diary.
“You’ll get through the days when you’re way too late / And the clouds lift the top off of the Empire State / Even those days … It’s never too late for teenage dreams,” Caws sings on “Teenage Dreams.” Teenage dreams might have worked for Katy Perry, but Nada Surf is far too late.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5