Transient

nada surf // the stars are indifferent to astronomy

by jared silva
02.13.12

It’s pretty hard today to find bands that really nail the alt pop sounds of the 90s just right; catchy choruses, jangly guitars, fun harmonies, et al. But on their seventh album The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, Nada Surf has bought back the spotlight onto just that, what they do best, albeit a bit conservatively.

The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is, at its core, young, dumb, and fun. Most of the tracks here feature themes about growing up (“When I Was Young), falling in love (“Jules and Jim”), breaking up (“Let The Fight Do The Fighting”), and optimistically looking into the future for something better (“The Future”). It’s very much a retrospective album about learning from mistakes and moving forward with better intent and a new found level of maturity, which is basically the soundtrack to everyone’s teenage years. In a time today where 20-something-year-old artists are tapping into the relevantly popular 80s nostalgia wave with little experience in it, the two-decade-old Nada Surf take their actual experiences growing up in the 90s and showcase it for the youth of today to understand. The difference here is that, even in the dower themed songs, the feel of this album is optimistic and upbeat. Yes, there are plenty of albums that hit these topics with more introspection and diversity, but The Stars take that straight-forward progression through nostalgia and make it really work here.

That’s also partially the record’s problem: it’s a little too straight-forward. The album features no real innovations for the band, making the album overall sound “safe.” There are certainly some good tracks that’ll stick for a couple hours, some to revisit every now and again, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, even on Nada Surf’s past records. That isn't always a problem, and it necessarily isn't for them here, but it helps a lot to make an album really stand out among the crowd of albums coming out this year. The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy absolutely is still a fun hook fulled sing song record with lovable power pop tracks. Sometimes that’s all an album needs to be, but it shouldn't have to settle for it either. Enjoy it for what it is, but don’t expect to be taking much else from it anytime soon.

c+

favorite tracks // “waiting for something,” “jules and jim,” “looking through”

Listen to The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy now, via Spotify.