Nada Surf – ‘You Know Who You Are’

By Glen Bushell

There’s always been a feeling that Nada Surf should have been much bigger than they are really are. Perhaps they are your favourite band already, which would be understandable, because they know how to write a great song. Following their hit single ‘Popular’ in the late nineties, they celebrated the peak time of college rock and have had a steady output for the last 20 years. However they always seemed to just sit on the periphery; cited as an influence by many, garnering a cult following.

Now seven albums deep into their career, Nada Surf have return with ‘You Know Who You Are’, which comes four years after ‘The Stars are Different To Astronomy’. The band took a well-earned break following their last album, which has given them a chance to take stock of their sound, and have come back with an album that shows them doing what they do best: writing well-rounded, pop-rock songs.

Through the duration of ‘You Know Who You Are’, it paints images of lazy summer days and is filled with charm. ‘Cold To See Clear’ fluctuates between sullen verse and driving choruses, giving Matthew Caws a chance to flex his vocal cords from the outset. They still have the ability to write a cohesive, radio friendly, indie-rock song, with ‘Friend Hospital’ and ‘Rushing’ redolent of Band Of Horses-esque modern Americana.

Many of the songs on ‘You Know Who You Are’ play out like the soundtrack to coming of age movie, particularly ‘Out Of The Dark’, complete with a soaring brass middle eight. The title track itself is probably the post fast-paced moment of the album, which once again, is Nada Surf using their own tried and tested formula perfectly. Where they excel is in relatable songs. Where some of their counterparts such as Death Cab For Cutie – and even Weezer to a degree – have moved into a less engaging territory, ‘You Know Who You Are’ is an album that any listener can relate to in some way.

It’s not going to be a career-defining album for Nada Surf, but they probably aren’t looking to increase any sort of trajectory here anyway. In keeping with the album title, they clearly know who they are and there’s no need for them to change what works. ‘You Know Who You Are’ is a solid expansion of Nada Surf’s already excellent back catalogue.


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