This is a new injection of life into a rock and roll scene that has become depressingly predictable. Nada Surf have conspired to write twelve cleverly thought out, beautifully structured songs that still demand repeated listens weeks and months after first hearing them. When comparisons to other bands are sought, the most-used similarity is drawn with Weezer - now, although Nada Surf share the three minute pop song sensibility, their songs are so much smarter and edgier than the average power-pop band.
Opener 'Blizzard of '77' sets out to prove this - just an acoustic guitar and vocal for the whole two and a half minutes, confounding people that were expecting fuzzed-up guitars and vocal harmonies. However, they aren't long in coming - Way You Wear Your Head, Hi Speed Soul, Happy Kid and Treading Water are all perfect three minute blasts of controlled aggression with vocal harmonies to die for - catchy, melodic, powerful, exactly what they should be. You can hear their appreciation for bands like Teenage Fanclub and Big Star, and it appears that Nada Surf are flying the same flag.
The standout tracks are the slower, darker ones - Dylan homage Blonde On Blonde is exquisite, all A minors and F majors underneath softly sung vocals. Equally, Inside Of Love owes something to Blur's Coffee And TV, but the acoustic/electric guitar interplay lifts it up to another level altogether. Fruit Flies, meanwhile, begins as an acoustic ode to rotting fruit - bizarre, I know - and develops into a crashing, uplifting wall of noise. If this is the Nada Surf blueprint for the future, then we've finally found a band worthy of carrying the 'Big Star' torch.