Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy
The New York alt-rock trio return with their first album of original material since 2008’s Lucky. Their sixth studio album, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, is a coming of age album – the band are now well into their forties. However, Nada Surf fans will be delighted to find a tremendous amount of musical energy left for the band to expend. Produced in co-operation with Chris Shaw (Weezer, Bob Dylan, Public Enemy), the album reaffirms the band’s unmistakeable vibe – a vibe fans have sorely missed for a good few years now.
Beginning with one of the definite standout tracks, Clear Eye Clouded Mind has that famous Nada Surf vigor, encased beautifully within catchy pop choruses and powerful chord progressions. When I Was Young then begins to paint the album with sentimentality, building from an almost lullably-like acoustic ballad into a catchy pop song, all the while being backed by strings and the serene tones of Matthew Caws repeating “What was that world I was dreaming of?”.
Another standout track is Teenage Dreams, a song drenched in contagious optimism. Their guitar lines shimmer as strong as they ever have; the band seem extremely comfortable together, and this contentment makes for an uplifting listening experience. It’s Nada Surf in pure form, and proves the band still know how to write a great pop song. The phrasing is excellent, and the lyrics really shine through in the chorus – “Sometimes I ask the wrong questions / But I get the right answers… It’s never too late for teenage dreams”. The relaxed vibe of the final track, The Future, helps to end the album on a high, cementing it as a truly optimistic yet reminiscent album.
No song on The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy holds as much power as the Nada Surf classics Popular and Hi-Speed Soul. However, the album possesses a unique optimism brought forth by the band’s maturity. They have maintained their classic sound while at the same time moving forward thematically. However, because the instrumentation remains mostly as a simple pop-rock set-up, the aesthetic can become predictable at times. Despite this, even the overly generous amount of sentimentality will not deter Nada Surf fans from clinging to the positivity of the album’s catchy hooks.