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CD of The Week

Week of 2/10/20

    Nada Surf - Never Not Together (Barsuk)

    For over two decades, the narrative of Nada Surf has been "band overcomes one-hit-wonder tag and gets a second chance." Well in 2020, Nada Surf hasn't been the "Popular" band far, far longer than they originally were. When you hear a new record from the trio, you know what you're getting: catchy indie-pop highlighting singer/guitarist Matthew Caws' melodic voice.

    On their ninth album, Never Not Together, Nada Surf continue to craft lovely tunes built around Caws' voice and ringing guitars, backed by the rock-solid rhythm section of Daniel Lorca (bass) and Ira Eliot (drums).

    Opener "So Much Love" is a pep talk encouraging the listener to fight for positivity in these trying times, even as Caws notes that "The dark ages had the same sunny skies / In the summer of love, we were at war." The first taste of Never Not Together we heard was "Something I Should Do," a big power-pop rocker overflowing with Caws' spoken word discourse. The epic lyrics tackle empathy and social media and the nature of humanity itself and so much more, wrapping with the phrase that gives the album its title, reminding us that we're all in this together.

    There are some nice synth parts on "Come Get Me," perhaps a slight nod to the band's mentor, the late Ric Ocasek. The gentleness of "Just Wait" mines the same vein as the prettier moments of their peers in Death Cab for Cutie. Other highlights include the 6+ minute epic "Mathilda" and rocking album closer "Ride in the Unknown."

    Clocking in with just nine songs over the course of 43 minutes, Never Not Together gives us an always-welcome helping of Caws' voice, radiating hopefulness over chiming and chugging guitars. It may not be the most popular position nowadays, but it's exactly what we need: a familiar, friendly voice striving for some sort of optimism in these dark times.

    Review by Joey O.

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