Usually I am a very strong believer in changing sound to adapt to the times. A band not changing its sound leads to irrelevance, and nobody wants that. Of course, relevance is also associated with the number of accomplishments the band is able to bust out in short periods of time – for example, Nada Surf has released seven albums within its nineteen years of band-dom. Regardless, the band has somehow been able to stick to the same sound throughout their existence and remain relevant. The band is now as old as I am, which I suppose is where my sentimental attachment comes from. Being a ‘90s kid means I would be more apt to enjoy that decade of music. Fortunately for me and other ‘90s music lovers (which should be everyone), bands usually stick pretty close to their original sound – with or without adaptations.
The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy basically follows the same path for each of its songs – catchy but calm melodies (you could say they put the “mellow” in “melody,” heh heh), the drums that take the lead in exhibiting the desired moods, Nada Surf-signature guitar tones and the like. There is even some nice horn-usage in “Let the Fight Do the Fighting.” The first track “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” is one of the best on the album, making it a good pick for the opener. Lyrically and musically great, it somehow makes you both want to bob your head and chill out at the same time.
Second track “Waiting For Something” opens up with a pretty guitar lead that continues throughout the entirety of the song. Both the drums and the vocals here are comparable to Butch Walker (see “Mixtape”). The pre-chorus however, takes a Saves the Day turn with the different harmony layers and the dark transition before returning to the chorus which is followed by an Kansas-like guitar solo. Speaking of the Eagles, if you enjoy the guitar work they do in “Dust in the Wind,” you will also enjoy the guitar-work in the first half of Nada Surf’s third track “When I Was Young.” This lead does not last for long before an eerie synth sound joins in and makes the sad nostalgia of the song completely evident. The drums pick up shortly after that, seemly locking in that mood.
Nada Surf stays true to themselves in their seventh studio album, which is a solid ten tracks long – a good length that (thankfully) does not seem to drag on and on forever or get cut short. Also set in good lengths are the songs: not a single one makes you check how much longer you have left to go. The album is a perfect balance of ballad-like guitar solos, chill melodies and moody drums. Now you have something to look forward to on January 24.