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Nada Surf - You Know Who You Are (Review)

Nada Surf, You Know Who You Are

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NADA Surf’s return from a four year hiatus proves worth the wait with You Know Who You Are, their eighth LP in total.

Combining all of the Nada Surf hallmarks, the album also continues to push them into interesting new directions, meaning that there’s a good mix of sounds throughout and a sustained sense of enjoyment.

Poduced by long-time comrade Tom Beaujour at Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken, New Jersey, the album also marks the band’s first as an official quartet with the core unit – singer/ songwriter/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot – joined by Doug Gillard on second guitar.

And there are times when the presence of an extra guitar feels very pronounced without detracting too much from that signature sound.

The laidback element that so often accompanies Nada Surf is present and correct on tracks like former single Believe You’re Mine, which surrounds some bittersweet lyrics about the nature of romance, with some striking riffs and a daydream of a chorus that just soars whenever it lands. The central refrain of “one day, I’ll love somebody else” has a melancholy undertow, yet it’s made for singing along to.

Another favourite, Out Of The Dark, showcases a little more positivity in its song-writing, while managing to combine elements of The Charlatans with Tom Petty. But it’s awash with lush melodies, terrific riffs and – late on – some fine brass arrangements that only enhance the overall appeal.

Rushing also impresses, complete with a vibe not dissimilar in places to classic ELO, albeit with that laidback California vibe that is very much Nada Surf’s own. It’s just a really great listen without really stretching itself.

If anything, the stretching is reserved for some of the later songs. Animal has a more hangdog rock ‘n’ roll vibe that reflects on getting high and the sins of the past, while dropping some gritty guitar hooks (by Nada Surf’s standards) and the occasional nod to classic Rolling Stones.

And the guitars are ramped up even more on the track that follows, You Know Who You Are, which positively rattles along with a more plugged in, gritty rock sound. It’s a more frenzied track than the norm but it delivers the LP a timely and welcome shot in the arm, complete with rousing, anthemic chorus.

The mellowness returns on Gold Sounds, which nevertheless drops one of the most insistent guitar sounds on the LP, while things are rounded off in style with Victory’s Yours, a track that tip-toes into ’60s guitar pop territory.

Put together, You Know Who You Are is a really great album from a band that consistently deliver the goods.

Watch the video for Cold To See Clear

Listen to Believe You’re Mine

Download picks: Believe You’re Mine, Rushing, Animal, You Know Who You Are, Victory’s Yours

Track listing:

  1. Cold to See Clear
  2. Believe You’re Mine
  3. Friend Hospital
  4. New Bird
  5. Out of the Dark
  6. Rushing
  7. Animal
  8. You Know Who You Are
  9. Gold Sounds
  10. Victory’s Yours