Nada Surf
Lucky


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
May 14th, 2010 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There's nothing Lucky about it; Nada Surf hit the mark with their fifth studio album, where consistency meets excellence.

They'll tell you that change is a dangerous thing, that bands are often hesitant to approach it, and that the fans are usually skeptical about the idea of any new direction. But sometimes, change is easy. Nada Surf, over the course of their existence, have attracted their fair share of detractors for both a lack of consistency in terms of quality and an overdose of consistency in terms of musical ideas. Formed in 1992, they hit it pretty big with 1996 semi-anthem 'Popular' and since then they've been putting out set after set of harmless, bouncy indie-pop songs, but they've seen criticism for their single-minded approach. By 2002 most bands would have broken, succumbed to pressure and played double or quits, but to Nada Surf this idea clearly seemed rooted in the artificial; they stuck to their guns and delivered Let Go, more jangly pop-rock from the same place on the radar as what came before it.

But if there's one thing Nada Surf have achieved over time, it's to remove the padding from their records and replace it with substantial, important pop songs in the context of the record. So 2008's Lucky sees them plying their trade in as workmanlike a fashion as ever, just with a far better hit:miss ratio than ever before. Melodic and largely major acoustic guitars winding uncomplicated time signatures around plugged-in ones and a background rhythm section which succeeds in rendering what comes in front of it senselessly upbeat; vocalist Matthew Caws' lyrics are pretty, quotable and even somewhat inspirational, but they're hardly deep. These songs mean something, but they don't mean everything. And that's pretty much how Nada Surf are best viewed.

There are issues here, for sure. Sometimes it's all a bit too straightforward, and stand-out 'I Like What You Say' would benefit from awareness of that problem; other times, like on penultimate track 'The Fox', it becomes obvious that experimentation would never be the group's forte anyway, when the record's least accessible track falls flat within stuttering reverb and ambiguous lyrics; for all its intrigue, it abandons the group's usual touchstones entirely and has nothing to really grab onto. But these are minor faults in a sea of excellence - opener 'See These Bones' begins with a picked electric guitar and transitions through three different hooks before its climax sees them all come together. It's hardly the most complex harmony work or layering ever set to record, but it's an aural orgasm. And 'Weightless' possesses true energy and momentum courtesy of its distorted riff, then fades into a meandering outro to set up slower, nostalgic number 'Are You Lightning'.

Don't get it twisted; change and experimentation are unequivocally admirable traits in musicians. We'd be nowhere if it weren't for the pioneers. But Nada Surf don't give a damn about where we are. They're a band that started writing music a long time ago for a specific audience and a specific reason, and those things remain constants 17 years later. Their progression is like a damn straight road with very few junctions that started off a dirt track and has become, over time, smooth tarmac. And you know the best thing about a straight road? You can take your hands off the wheel, close your eyes and let the airy melodies take your breath away without ever being worried about crashing. And if you did crash, Nada Surf would probably be your airbag anyway.



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user ratings (85)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty quick write-up for an album that's grown a lot and deserves a review. said i was gonna review it a long time ago and never did. it's come to mean a lot to me for personal reasons, but i tried to keep this objective.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 14th 2010


24836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review, pos'd. sounds like something i could get into.

Digging: Billy Corgan - Ogilala

BigHans
May 14th 2010


28436 Comments


Havent heard this. Bought High/Low when it came out. Icebox is a great song off it, as is Popular.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

attracted vs. detractors. i realise they aren't opposites but i just did it automatically because when i said it out loud to myself i stressed the "de-" because it sounded strange having "-tracted" in 2 words in close proximity otherwise. and thanks a lot.



popular rules, hans, MY MOM THINKS I'M A CATCH



probably, SowingSeason. check out the first track; if you like that, good chance you'll enjoy the record.

SeaAnemone
May 14th 2010


21405 Comments


so glad you finally kept your word and reviewed this haha... I can tell it was quick, but it seems very honest, if that makes sense. there's so many fantastic songs on this, but it's really inconsistent in my opinion.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


11732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i just came

SeaAnemone
May 14th 2010


21405 Comments


that's just gross, rudy.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


11732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also wtfux my favorite song here is the fox

Knott-
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the fox isn't BAD it's just... meh.

EVedder27
May 14th 2010


6088 Comments


good stuff Knott, may need this

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2010


11732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also yeah the end of 'see these bones' is ridiculously awesome

KevinKC
January 12th 2012


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I used not to be aware of the "stuttering reverb" and It took me time to recover from your remark on "the fox." I think this is a great song if your attention is on the melody and not on the stuttering. After reading your remark I could only hear "wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa" for five minutes.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 12th 2012


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hahaha, sorry!

Knott-
Emeritus
January 23rd 2012


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sucks that this album doesn't have Your Legs Grow on it then it might actually be a 4.5

Enotify
April 16th 2013


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Fox is good. I like the eerie mood, the intermittent drum lines, and how it segue's from eerie to optimistic, then back to eerie. I think it suggests the band could do just fine out of it's comfort zone. I love Let Go, The Weight Is a Gift and many of the songs from this album, but The Stars scares me that they're content to release power chord soaked pop songs with a lightened mood, devoid of any ambiguity that previous record have had.

ExcentrifugalForz
July 20th 2014


2124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

good bonus track



everyone is on tour

InTheYard
June 22nd 2015


1 Comments


I Wanna Take You Home. Damn good song and bonus disc!



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