Album review: Nada Surf – Lucky

15 January 2008

In a musical climate thriving on the ethereally delicate, the harshly abrasive and the epically ambitious, it’s reassuring that a toe-tapping but instantly forgettable record like Lucky can draw an audience. It’s not so much that Nada Surf play inoffensive, formulaic pap (although to some extent they do). Their vacantly pretty alterna-pop-indie is heartfelt and well-crafted, like the glass diamond on the wedding ring of a poor peasant girl. For a crude comparison, try Death Cab For Cutie minus the brains.

Penultimate track The Fox is an anomaly on which the band inexplicably decide to pull out the stops and employ more subtlety and imagination than you could find in the whole of the rest of the album put together, but apart from that, Lucky trudges through its eleven rock-by-numbers tracks. They range from mid-tempo guitar pop to, er, slightly faster guitar pop, and never stray from their straight-up verse-chorus-bridge song structure and their tweely emotional melodies.

The charming thing about Lucky is the sweet life-is-what-you-make-it ideology put forth in its lyrics. I Like What You Say has the plaintive “They say you have to have somebody / They say you have to be someone / They say if you’re not lonely alone / Boy there is something wrong”, and From Now On sums up the album’s attitude with the line “You’ll have to invent what you lack”, presumably spurring the listener to new heights of self-determination.

The steady stream of blankly hopeful melodies, tempered by the steady rhythms of Ira Elliot’s uncomplicated drumming, form the perfect backdrop for bog-standard, middle-of-the-road, pedestrian rock music’s arrival – at last – in the late Noughties.