Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Nada Surf’s new album is called Let Go. As in; you should.
It’s a telling name because it’s been almost seven years since their hit, "Popular," ruled the "alternative college scene" but the press still brings up the haphazard hit repeatedly. Just as I have done now.

After all, it’s been seven long years of bands that have come and gone. Seven years of albums that have been repeatedly played and then forgotten (or sold to used record stores for, like, $3). Seven years of radio-declared wonders, then never to be heard from again. But like an elephant that could carry a tune, we’ve never forgotten the song that’s more or less accomplished for Nada Surf the opposite of its title. Chances are the "unpopular" band’s raison d’rock etre is playing in your head right now as you read this ("I’m a quaterback/I’m popular…"). And as we’ve learned from our healthy dose of VH1’s "Where Are They Now?" there isn’t much hope of recovering from One-Hit Wonderland. In fact, it’s…errr…a one way trip.

But then came the Proximity Effect; an underrated album so ignored that it pretty much saw less activity than I did the summer I joined the Debate team. The album, a more refined version than their first (High/Low) displayed their peanut-buttery thick pop sensibilities with guitar chops that would essentially make Bruce Lee green with envy...that is, if he wasn’t dead. But no matter how strong the album was, the kids just didn’t care enough to buy it and both the album and the band were dumped from their major label, Elektra. Now Matthew Caws and Co. were back to where they started: an obscure indie rock band from New York City.

But after listening to Let Go, it’s obvious that their return to un-stardom worked in their favor because sometimes being a nobody is inspiring (I should know). Living in the depths of obscurity made the unfortunately-named trio, hungrier, meaner, and more vengeful. They recorded Let Go to show the nay-sayers and the label suits that they’re capable of bringin’ music strong enough for a man but still made for a woman. That being said, this won’t be the album that makes Nada Surf the proverbial popular quarterback again because while this effort is one of the best albums this year by any band, Pop Culture 101 stipulates that their time in the sun is up. But if that means that they’ll get to record albums like this, then I wish them many more years of obscurity.


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