Album Review: You Know Who You Are by Nada Surf

How do you introduce a band that’s already eight albums in?

That’s the dilemma myself and probably many PR people are faced with when trying to discuss the new album from Nada Surf, You Know Who You Are.

As a band originally from nineties New York, they’re understandably a little out of touch with modern trends. Rather than sounding like The Rapture, however, or even having the typically grungy sound of the nineties, the band are actually incredibly spacious – reminiscent more of noughties indie rock bands like The Shins, Death Cab For Cutie, or even Snow Patrol.

That spacious nature is made spectacularly clear on the opening track to You Know Who You Are, ‘Cold To See Clear’. The song, as bright and as wide as the blue sky on the album cover, starts the record with a massive kick. It’s actually a little remarkable how fitting the album cover is – the warm yet breezy sound feels incredibly summery and uplifting, just like the image of an aeroplane floating across the sky.

[video: align:center]

The name Nada Surf is actually quite appropriate for the band. Rather than just being a token phrase, Nada Surf is a name the band gave to the idea of surfing on nothing – the feeling felt when lost to music in your own mind. With the floaty aesthetic present on You Know Who You Are, you can’t help but feel it’s fitting.

The positive feel on ‘Cold To See Clear’ doesn’t last very long however; through lead single ‘Believe You’re Mine’ and third track ‘Friend Hospital’, the band show their wistful side. It’s a good look, as much as I personally prefer the pounding, summery opening. The sombre lyrics – ‘Someday I’ll love somebody else’ etc. – in particular make for a slightly tear-jerky listen.

With ‘New Bird’, the album does make a return to the more upbeat but the remaining tracks settle down well within the emotional boundaries set by the opening three tracks.

I made the point earlier about how out of touch the band seem from modern music. Rather than being frustrating or even making the album feel dull however, You Know Who You Are almost feels refreshing to listen to. It’s a proper throwback to a less pretentious period of pop music – before new artists needed to have their own patented synth sound and conform to a complicated post-something genre in order to be taken seriously.

Overall, what Nada Surf have created is an album that’s distinct from the current musical norm. The sheer simplicity of each track makes for a refreshing listen, whilst ‘Cold To See Clear’ is so far one of the tracks of the year.

Are you a fan of Nada Surf? Let us know in the comments below!