Album #36: Nada Surf – Never Not Together

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: New York City, USA
  • Label: City Slang
  • Best Track: Something I Should Do

Nada Surf are best known for writing the ’90s-est song ever in ‘Popular‘, but what else have they done? Nine albums, as it turns out, the latest of which was released last Friday.

It’s a strange feeling diving into a band with a body of work when all you know of them is one song. In a completely infantile and close-minded way, part of me expects an album full of songs with spoken word choruses about college and dating, with anthemic, crunchy guitar choruses.

It’s probably for the best that a whole album of ‘Popular’ is not at all what Never Not Together is. It’s actually a collection of ballads, I would say, with a very mature and grown-up sound that sits somewhere between pre-2000 emo and college rock. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is recent work from Jimmy Eat World, where the edge and energy of their earlier records aren’t quite there, but they’re replaced by an almost fatherly wisdom and sense of reflection, with the same strong songwriting in place.

Even names like ‘Live Learn and Forget’ and ‘Something I Should Do’ have an advisory tone to them. The latter is a really good song actually, with a welcome smattering of spoken word and keyboards

I’m fond of opener ‘So Much Love’ as well. A few years ago I’d probably have found it a bit of a soppy dirge, but I’ve bought into the whole idea of rebelling against the tide of worldwide hatred by showing love and joy (with IDLES probably at the pinnacle of this mindset). ‘Mathilda’ is a highlight too, with its change of pace taking me pleasantly by surprise.

It’s not an album that gets my pulse racing – in fact, one or two tracks veer a bit close to being bland – but it’s generally a solid record of well-crafted, lyrically clever songs. This is a band that appears to have a lot more longevity and tricks up their sleeves than the casual music fan would give them credit for.

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