City Slang (label)
05 February 2020 (released)
05 February 2020
It was revisiting 2002’s ‘Let Go’ album in 2017 that Nada Surf front man Matthew Caws set about modifying and altering his modus operendi. These new approaches reaping this superior crop of pop. The past contains many things, the future being one of them.
Ninth LP ‘Never not together’ (Caws, Daniel Lorca, Ira Elliot, and long-time friend and collaborator Louie Lino) furthers their desire to get human beings to forge deeper, more heuristic and humanistic connections, therefore recording at the famed Rockfield Studios in Wales helped the group go back to (and channel) nature.
Effervescent opener ‘So much love’ showcases and immediately reminds of Caws’s ultra-distinctive voice (like a perpetually pained Bread-head David ‘Baby, I’m a-want you’ Gates). Pitched between a wailing whine and an ailing pine for that ol’ devil called ‘love’, the song points out that at the end of the day, love is ‘all’ we’ve got and its managed dearth amidst darkness across the planet is signalling the death of us all.
As the lyrics recall: ‘In the Summer of Love we were at war’ Caws serves both a timely reminder to how the innate pursuit of ‘love’ is a unifying glue, but also a cursory rejoinder to the edit-historians who ‘remember’ the swinging times and omit the imperial bloodshed carried out in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. Two terms whose legitimacy appear redundant nowadays.
The relentless ‘Live, Learn, Forget’ is a declamatory demand to carpe diem, not carp at ‘them’, all the things you’ve yet to do need doing … so do them. These future signifiers include ‘cigarettes you’ve never smoked’ which may alarm your GP, but, the underlying message is ‘It’s always WHAT you do next’ that matters, ‘that’s where the ship is steered’. A superior wake-up call to set those alarm bells a-ringing.
‘Something I do’ also has Caws breathlessly regaling the listener with a list of the un-done things set to a warping synth akin to The Car’s early new wave forays.
In lesser hands (heads and hearts) these lyrics and songs could come across as half-baked, Hallmark card-triteisms (‘Live, Learn Forget’ carved in wood is probably on sale at IKEA), however, here, they resonate as elegiac and redemptory.
If love is the answer, Nada Surf are the question.