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We should be so lucky
on 3 March 2008
Nada Surf have been garnering effusive critical reviews for some time now and I have been ignoring them at the same rate. What is really inexpiable about this on a personal level is that I bought their single "Popular" back whenever that was released and loved it's crunchy guitar angst and the lyrical bile yet saw no reason to purchase anything else by them. I have remedied that now by buying Lucky , their fifth album and while it is all the things that people get so excited about , polished power pop that straddles indie rock weightiness with mainstream pop illustriousness , to my way of thinking it, isn't strong enough in either department to make it anything special.
By all accounts , and I have done my homework here the bands epoch making work is the album "Let Go" from 2002 , so it seems I have entered their catalogue too late. That's not say that Lucky is an out an out write off . Much of the album is pleasant enough to listen to with spangled guitar lines, rich harmonies and the overall ambience of a very fine band doing what they do best. However not one song on the album really sinks its hooks into the subconscious , or makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention like cadets in a passing out parade. It's consistent , but that consistency is around the just above average level if you want to tag school mark criteria to it.
Also given that the album has a number of notable guest artists popping up -Members of Death Cab For Cutie, Calexico and Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, as well as Julianne Hatfield and Ed Harcourt- it lacks variety and the sort of exigent impact you would expect such personnel to make. The four track bonus disc is for real Nada Surf nuts only .
For power pop to be really memorable it has to contain genuine sonic clout and tunes that could stop a bellicose mammoth in it's tracks. Lucky has none of that .Tracks like "See These Bones" , Whose Authority" or "Weightless" are fine while they are on but the instant they are gone ...they are gone. No residual impact at all. You will not be whistling them all day or indeed within five minutes of the track ending. Maybe for Nada Surf their luck just ran out.