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Recording:
  Let Go  
 
Artist:
  Nada Surf  
 
Label:
  Barsuk  
 
Release Date:
  4.February.2003  
 
Reviewed by:
  Malimus  
         
 
Rating:
   
         
 
Review:
 

I admit to be a little late to the Nada Surf resurgence party. I think I heard about this album when it was released earlier this year. Like many people I thought ďNada Surf? Theyíre still around? Weird.Ē I remembered liking Popular, their one-hit radio song from 1996 their debut album High/Low, and I think I owned a copy of it at one time. But by the time Let Go was released the band had drifted so far into the recesses of my consciousness that I didnít really register the event. It was just one of those oddities that appear on new release lists every now and then, like this monthís Local H CD.

Then a month or so ago, I was chatting with Christiano, one of the graphic designers at work, discussing music and film and such. I had turned him on to The Postal Service a few weeks earlier, beginning a cycle of general geekery. Eventually he asked me if Iíd heard the new Nada Surf. I said no and he gave me his copy to listen to. I owe him something very good in return.

Let Go, simply put, is an astoundingly good listen. It is near-perfect indie-pop. The Blizzard of í77 opens with gently strummed guitars backing Matthew Caws slightly melancholic vocals. The songís nominal metaphor, a blizzard, reflects the general mood of the song, even while Cawsí lyrics slow-dance along sometimes mysterious, almost non-linear streams of consciousness. The sweetness of the guitars and voice blunts the songís innate sadness, but the lyrics themselves recreate the deep winterís mood; ďI know I have got a negative edge, thatís why I sharpen all the others a lot. Itís like flowers, or ladybugs, pretty weeds or red beetles with dots. But in the middle of the night, I worry. Itís blurry even without light.Ē

Immediately after that, youíre dumped into the misleadingly upbeat Happy Kid, complete with another addictive guitar hook. Again Caws wraps a pointy object up in goose down comforting: ďIím just a happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk. Drowning in my id, always searching like itís own junk. No matter who I hang out with, I can hear the clack-clunk, of the chins that pull the cars up the roller coaster mountain top so highÖĒ

This is quality music on every level. Like all truly great pop songwriting, sweetness and bitterness nestle together, intertwining in both word and music, hinting at jagged edges and emotional cliffs just out of sight, heartbreak and joy swirling just below the surface, a bardic undertow that continually drags the listener back in. The entire album works that magic almost perfectly. Track three, Inside of Love actually manages to make having sex with lots of different people seem like a depressing thing. Track six turns clubbing to soul music into an exercise of meaningless superficiality while refusing to allow your head to stop bouncing. The album as a whole puts the listener on a chair rail, rocking you into pop-nibbanic oblivion by alternating between near-acoustic set pieces and mid-tempo rock numbers.

The discís only slight falter is track ten, La Pour Ca, a song sung entirely in French. Itís actually a very pretty song, and quite probably a bone tossed to the bandís European fans (which was their saving grace between 1996 and now.) Itís not so much a falter as an unexpected treat, but it is an odd sound to hear that deep into an otherwise straight pop record.

With that said, I think Leg Go is an incredible album. It reminds me a lot of the work of Trip Shakespeare cum Semisonic, but neither incarnation of that band ever produced this complete of a work (though 1998ís Feeling Strangely Fine might come close) and Iím going to give it a full seven sponges. Much like the similarly titled, similarly themed Give Up, I find myself listening to this disc over and over again, and it has yet to get even the slightest bit old. I owe Christiano something worthwhile in return. (I wonder if heís heard the new New PornographersÖ)

 
         
 
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