Jazz often sounds good on rainy spring evenings. Sometimes autumn drives in the country are well suited for classic American folk music. I dig despair-filled metal and noise during the beautifully stark, white, wasteland of winter. But summertime often finds me listening to more melodic music. Poppy, yes, but still uptempo, guitar-based, and suitable for turning up the volume in the car (volume within reason, though; call me cranky, but I think cars with blaring and booming stereos are a public nuisance).
This summer, I have been listening to The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy by Nada Surf over and over and over and over. It’s somewhat surprising since I didn’t pay much attention to them when they had their big hit “Popular” in the mid-90s. But in the last ten years, Nada Surf have reinvented themselves into a less ironic, less grungy, more melodic, more earnest and endearing band. Or maybe it’s just that singer Matthew Caws started singing prettier tunes higher in his vocal range. Their latest album is a masterpiece of power pop with the right amount of driving songs, catchy melodies and frills like cello, organ, trumpet and xylophone to spice up the guitar rock. (If you don’t trust my opinion, check out the gushing enthusiasm for Nada Surf by the good folks at Aquarius Records.)
As might be expected from still-inspired musical veterans, lyrics from many songs address the passing of time:
“elusive energy / hard to hold / I’m looking for it now / and will be when I’m old”
“when I was young / I didn’t know if I was better off / asleep or up / now I’ve grown up / I wonder what was that world / I was dreaming of?”
“sometimes I ask the wrong questions / but I get the right answers / moved to a tear by / a subway breakdancer / it’s never too late for teenage dreams”
“and I cannot believe / the future’s happening to me”
Time has been good to Nada Surf. I am so pleased when a band can release possibly their best album twenty years into their career.