3-sided double vinyl reissue
"I'M THE PARTY STAR, I'M POPULAR,I'VE GOT MY OWN CAR, I'M POPULAR". Everyone know's the song that made Nada Surf famous. 'Popular', the band's first single from their debut album 'High/Low' catapulted them into the limelight in 1996, with a tale of high-school angst and teen rage. It somewhat proved to be a millstone around the neck of guitarist and singer Matthew Caws, lead guitarist Doug Gillard, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot. Their excellent follow-up album 'The Proximity Effect' was deemed to be lacking a radio-friendly hit like 'Popular' by Elektra and the band were told to record some cover versions to be released as singles. As you can imagine, this didn't go down well and the band fired Elektra.
The 2002 album 'Let Go' was paid for by the band with the money they made from merchandise sales generated by touring this album. It was met with great commercial and critical success and reached number 31 in the Billboard charts.
'Let Go' is my favourite Nada Surf album. 'High/Low' and 'The Proximity Effect' have a couple of better songs but I don't feel that those albums are as strong as a whole record as 'Let Go' is. The songs are more toned down and poppier than those on the previous two records, joyful even. The opener, 'Blizzard of '77' (which I think is a reference to the 1977 blizzard in Buffalo) is 2:09 of pure acoustic perfection. There's some strange lyrics on this album, particularly the opening of 'Fruit Fly':
Left some food wrapped up in a plastic bag on the kitchen table way too long
I sat down to eat next to the bag, I was too tired to throw it out
I saw a swarm of fruit flies I took the bag downstairs when i came back they were still there
Flying jerky patterns like snowflakes in the air
However, dig a little deeper and they could me construed as a metaphor about not being happy and not knowing which way to turn. All you do is go from one path to another with no pattern or reason. "Left, straight, right, straight. I can't find the reason". We've all been there at some point.
My favourite track is 'Killian's Red' – a 6 minute slow-burner of a song that I defy anyone to not love. There's an undertone of alcoholism in the song's story. The title itself is a nod to a beer brewed by Coors and the song tells a tale of a dependent guy hoping he finds a girl who can help him make some sense of it all. The song is intense from start to finish with such an infectious melody.
and i almost love this town when I’m by your side
No matter how miserable he is, she makes it worth sticking around for.
This album is fantastic and really should be one that more people are aware of. Sure it doesn't have an indie/alt rock classic like Popular on there but that's what makes it more rewarding than 'High/Low'. Anyway, on to the record.
The original Barsuk Records vinyl release in 2002 was also a 3-sided double LP. the first record was clear with a bit of blue swirled in and the second was just clear. Side 4 was blank. It also came with the same lyric inner that this 2009 repress does. The reissue is on 180g black vinyl, again side 4 is blank. I'm not keen on double LPs that don't come in a gatefold sleeve; I always feel like I'm forcing the records in and out of the sleeve and I have to handle them like their precious commodities. The two inner sleeves are standard rounded plain white die-cut sleeves. They look like they've been handled quite roughly in whatever factory they were put in the sleeves and are very creased – disappointing. The records themselves have a lovely sheen to them and feel weighty – as 180g issues should. I didn't have a US copy of this album before buying this double LP and when I was playing it realised the tracks are in a different order to the UK CD release on Heavenly Records. A bit of research showed that there are two different track listings for this album; a US and European version.
The sound quality of the two records are impressive. Bass levels are clear and strong without being too muddy and sludgy and the acoustic songs have real clarity. Matthew Caws' vocals come across crisp and clear and some of the subtleties in 'Fruit Fly' are more evident.
I'm really happy with this reissue, especially considering the price I paid for it.
- Blizzard of '77
- Happy Kid
- Inside of Love
- Fruit Fly
- Blonde on Blonde
- Hi-Speed Soul
- Killian's Red
- The Way You Wear Your Head
- Neither Heaven nor Space
- Là Pour Ça
- Treading Water
- Paper Boats
All these songs are included on the European version of the album.
A worthy addition to anyone's collection. Check out 'Killian's Red' below:
[youtube_sc url=F4tKe5nBbPw width=430]