by Ezra Ace Caraeff

Nada Surf

Wed Feb 4

Berbati's Pan

For what seemed like the longest time, the Nada Surf story was predictable, VH-1 Behind the Music fodder. Nineties alterna-rock band lands novelty single ("Popular") that sweeps the airwaves. Said single's video was like a pop culture shout-out (complete with sexy cheerleaders), said band was huge for all of six months, and thenÉ nothing. The major label doesn't hear any hit single on the sophomore record, units are not moved, and Nada Surf is cut loose, left to float out of your subconscious, their music finding a permanent resting place in the used CD landfill. Meanwhile, the poor band is swapping "we could have been huge" stories with the members of Tripping Daisy and Dig. So that's it, right?

Nope. Never a band to quit, Nada Surf stuck with it, found a niche in Europe, took four years off and recorded Let's Go, an album so consistent, it took just about everyone by surprise. While you weren't looking, Nada Surf got good. There was no memo, no sign that it was coming; just a quiet record release, and the next thing you know, the band is amazing.

Let's Go beams with the energy of a band that has a second chance at success. The songs share a sense of loosely assembled pop magic, each similar enough to flow concisely, yet still unique enough to stand on their own. They dabble with power-pop in "Happy Kid," stoner revisionism in "Blizzard of '77" and get downright international with the ooh-la-la-we-can-sing-in-French "Lá Pour Ça." But Nada's Surf is at their best with the tender "Blonde on Blonde," a gentle ballad that shows marvelous restraint, right up to the chorus of, "I've got Blonde on Blonde on my portable stereo/It's a lullaby from a giant golden radio." As the harmonies of "Blonde on Blonde" quicken, I dare you not to have your heart broken by the beauty of the song. Rock music has rarely been about second chances, especially for one-hit wonders, but the return of Nada Surf is a welcome one. Now if we can just get Seven Mary Three to come on back. We miss you guys and your "Cumbersome" ways.