Review Summary: Let Go is Nada Surf just doing what they do, but doing it the best they have in their career thus far.
Some bands just aren't comfortable releasing the same kind of music over and over again. Brand New, for example, have released four studio albums, not one featuring a musical style that could be perceived as similar to another. Some bands, however, feel more than content finding a style that suits them and releasing several albums all featuring that same style. This isn't always a bad thing; sometimes it can really work for a band and its listeners - rock bands like American Christian rockers Switchfoot and the popular Japanese indie quartet Straightener are just a couple of examples. It also doesn't mean that a band's music all sounds the same or gets boring, or that they can't have standout records.
Looking past their pop-punk-esque early days, it would be no exaggeration to say that Nada Surf is one of those bands, retaining the easy on the ears indie rock sound they found on 1998's The Proximity Effect to this day. And they sure have released some excellent records. Their sound isn't a boring one; in fact it's a great one, and they know it. They're not a band that needs to experiment; they're not a band that should
experiment - they're more of a band that should make the most of what they have, and they do that here better than they ever have anywhere else. This being their first full-length album since The Proximity Effect, they really stepped up their game for it. Let Go is still just Nada Surf being Nada Surf, but they're doing it better than they ever did before and ever have since. And with this record being over an hour long (I'm reviewing the European edition), the consistency seen here is also truly commendable.
The more lively songs on here are brilliant; tracks like 'The Way You Wear Your Head' and 'Hi-Speed Soul', with their catchy guitar riffs and other instrumentation, have an element of energy that the band haven't quite replicated ever since. 'End Credits' ends the album on a high note that has a fantastically fun, optimistic feel to it, and really is the perfect way to end a superb album. Let Go also features a lot of the best slower songs that Nada Surf have ever written. Tracks like 'Fruit Fly', 'Blonde on Blonde' and 'Inside of Love' are brilliant examples of the way that the band is able to create music that flows oh-so beautifully and almost begs you to sing along. Maybe 'Paper Boats' should get a little boring after seven minutes, but it never does; in fact like the album's other songs, its simultaneously beautiful and catchy nature makes it captivating from beginning to end.
A lot of the lyrics here are quite ambiguous, and if you don't really listen and try to interpret them you sometimes might wonder if Matthew Caw even means anything in particular. They're more about feeling than specific meaning, though, and many of the songs really do create feeling through these lyrics alongside the beauty of the music. The lyrics are at their best when they're at their most obvious and relatable, however, like on 'Inside of Love'. Themes include hopelessness, depression, wanting, feeling lost and other similar ideas, and despite their darkness are presented well even on more upbeat songs like 'Happy Kid'. 'Blonde on Blonde' focuses on how music can be such a great comfort in the hard times of our lives (at least by my interpretation), definitely fitting on a song and album as soothing and absorbing as this one. Whether you understand or 'feel' each and every lyric or not, the quality of the music makes you want to sing along to every line regardless, and there are no lyrics that could be considered bad to be found on this disc.
Let Go is Nada Surf's most accomplished effort, an album that, while sticking to their usual formula, creates greater feeling and generally sounds better overall than anything else they've done. It is essentially Nada Surf just doing what they do, but doing it the best they have in their career thus far.