Nada Surf
If I Had A Hi-Fi


3.5
great

Review

by SeaAnemone USER (161 Reviews)
April 15th, 2010 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Spoon’s less consistent little brother hit the jackpot, and have a little fun in the process.

Some bands get all the luck, don’t they" Take, for example, the indie-pop behemoths of the 2000’s, Spoon. With a whopping five studio albums that are, for the most part, both critically and commercially acclaimed, Spoon have been the epitome of consistent as far as the genre goes in recent years. Nada Surf are in the same realm as Spoon. Yes, they can be categorized in the same genre; but more than this simplicity, Spoon and Nada Surf epitomize the type of charm that garners a song placement on former Fox show, The O.C. (and fit perfectly nonetheless). The biggest difference between the two smiley bands is that Spoon has uncanny consistency. At times, i.e. “See These Bones,” “Weightless,” and “Fruit Fly,” Nada Surf has shown talent in the form of writing catchy, exceptional indie-pop that rivals any song Spoon has ever written. Never have they been able to construct an album of this quality that flows, though. In 2010, we arrive at if I had a hi-fi (not to mention on the heels of yet another Spoon release). Nada Surf’s latest feels palpably self-conscious in nature. Instead of crafting yet another album of home-grown tunes, Nada Surf relies on the already-written songs of their favorites.

After getting past the initial conceptions with such a release, a cover album makes perfect sense. Nada Surf, accompanied by some of their friends (Martin Wenk of Calexico, Doug Gillard of Guided By Voices), have found their calling on if I had a hi-fi. With some picks out of left-field, if I had a hi-fi is entertaining and fun throughout, indie-pop that feels lovable and genuine in every respect. No, you may not be able to attribute the songwriting to Nada Surf, but Matthew Caws and company couldn’t sound more content or more confident with what they’ve crafted on if I had a hi-fi.

This aspect is particularly evident, and was definitely missing in past releases- that sense of fun and confidence that’s dripping from every song on if I had a hi-fi. Be it the Depeche Mode cover, “Enjoy the Silence,” or Nada Surf’s representation of “Love Goes On” from the Australian indie-rockers The Go-Betweens, it all seems perfectly Nada Surf-y. Even during “Bye Bye Beaute (Coralie Clement),” a quintessential Nada Surf vibe is utterly evident. While these songs weren’t carefully chosen to create a sense of flow, I feel, it comes more naturally... from the overarching carefree atmosphere that envelopes if I had a hi-fi. Nada Surf connect the album not through their song choice (spanning from Kate Nash to Dwight Twilley for God’s sake), but through an overlapping fun atmosphere.

If I had a hi-fi works much better than you would expect from an indie-pop group that is used to dwelling in the shadows of Spoon and The Shins. Who knows, maybe all that was lacking from the formula was a little bit of fun" If I had a hi-fi doesn’t quite provide enough oomph to break the barriers of Nada Surf’s lingering inconsistency, as a cover album certainly has its own set of limitations, but it provides more than ample proof that Nada Surf are more than capable of this. It’s difficult to find a low-point on if I had a hi-fi, while “Love And Anger (Kate Bush)” and “Agony Of Lafitte (Spoon)” seem to provide the high points in the middle; and this, more than anything, makes me want to deliver a well-deserved pat on the back to Spoon’s less consistent little brother. Along with a congratulations, a little inquiry of “C’mon, what was keeping you from giving us this consistency before though"!” may be in order.



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user ratings (21)
Chart.
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
April 15th 2010


21407 Comments


weirdly ignored band... I was more than a little perturbed when I saw Lucky doesn't have a review?!

Slum
April 15th 2010


2580 Comments


Great review, messed up on one of the the italics in the last paragraph though. pos.

Nevermind you got it haha

SeaAnemone
April 15th 2010


21407 Comments


haha thanks... and yeah seems like I always miss one

BigTuna
April 15th 2010


5223 Comments


Spoon kinda bores me and so do cover albums.

Digging: Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

Ponton
Emeritus
April 15th 2010


6137 Comments


I enjoyed this review, sea. Do you have a stream? (pos)

Digging: Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial

SeaAnemone
April 15th 2010


21407 Comments


umm, I'm a little confused as to the releasability of this?? But I KNOW that they're selling it at shows, and I figured that was probably grounds for release? Not positive... but nonetheless sorry to hear that BigFish

Ponton
Emeritus
April 15th 2010


6137 Comments


yeah, if they're selling it at shows then it should be good. These guys do that song Always Love? Great song

BigTuna
April 15th 2010


5223 Comments


It's okay Eric it's not your fault

SeaAnemone
April 15th 2010


21407 Comments


Observer: Yeah, they have a bunch of great singles... "Popular" you'd probably recognize too

Big: it's too late. I feel guilty

EVedder27
April 15th 2010


6088 Comments


Typical great Eric review

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2010


21997 Comments


Very good review as usual. One of the few indie bands i've heard and kinda like.

SeaAnemone
April 16th 2010


21407 Comments


cool... thanks both! and spirit you might enjoy this then... it's interesting and enjoyable

Knott-
Emeritus
April 16th 2010


10198 Comments


review is great, imma avoid this because i hate covers but ive just opened a wordpad document to write about Lucky so :p

Knott-
Emeritus
April 16th 2010


10198 Comments


oh and the band rules, but has arguably never put out anything above a 4, which is why they're ignored.

SeaAnemone
April 16th 2010


21407 Comments


hmph. go ahead and write it. oh well I won't really be on Sputnik this weekend anyway. and I agree... so many great singles, but everything ranges from about 3-3.5 (Let Go is their best imo).

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2010


11756 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

spoon is hardly indie pop - and nothing like nada surf at least to me haha. love both bands though, but this is the first time i've heard that comparison



lucky and let go are so awesome, this doesn't really interest me though.

SeaAnemone
April 19th 2010


21407 Comments


some subgenres always baffle me... I should probably stray away from suing them in reviews in general just because I rarely know what I'm talking about ugh

Yotimi
April 19th 2010


7389 Comments


It's hard to believe these are the same guys that did "Popular" back in the day.

Good review man. I don't think they sound like Spoon at all though, more like Band of Horses or the Shins (but NS have been around longer so I guess that's unfair).

SeaAnemone
April 19th 2010


21407 Comments


I don't know... maybe it's more of a similar aesthetic or something, I just always put those two together for some reason...

and yes, their whole "Popular" phase was very different, I think Lucky was a big detraction (which Knott is writing a review for now finally!)

BigAlex
April 21st 2010


3 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review and a great album. Nada Surf have always proven to be great when it comes to their own songs, that playing covers seems like a natural extension of their wonderful musical abilities. They've recorded quite a few impressive covers before, including The Pixies' "Where is my Mind" and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "If You Leave" (their aforementioned song from the O.C. soundtrack), along with some great ones thrown in occasionally in their live shows (their take on Echo and the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon" and Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" sound great when they're included in their set lists). So it was only a matter of time before they released a wonderful collection like this. The only question now is: when do we get another one? :-)



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