Jose del Río Mons
In "When I Was Young," Nada Surf makes a case for embracing our lives as we've decided to live them.
In "When I Was Young," Nada Surf makes a case for embracing our lives as we've decided to live them. Jose del Río Mons
Song: "When I Was Young"
Artist: Nada Surf
CD: The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
Searching and sweet, bombastic and playful, the music of Nada Surf is often infused with a kind of bone-deep, empathetic kindness. Even when the band around him whips itself into a frenzy, singer Matthew Caws is there for moral support; to ruminate on the meaning of it all while usually coming to the conclusion that, hey, we're all doing the best we can. There's fearlessness to the wide-eyed way Nada Surf goes about its business, nearly 20 years into an obstacle-strewn but frequently glorious career. Not many acts on cool independent labels, who live in cool neighborhoods and tour with cool bands, would uncork a mission statement like 2005's "Always Love," in which Caws sings a rousing chorus of, "Always love / Hate will get you every time." But Caws, now in his early 40s, exudes more good-natured optimism with each album.
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy comes out Jan. 24, and it's tremendous — full of big, blooming rock that practically glows with generosity. As its title indicates, the record frequently examines the perils of over-analysis; of self-flagellation and pining for fantasy worlds instead of living and enjoying life. Among The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy's many highlights is "When I Was Young," a winsome look at the disconnect between youthful wishes and adult realities. Naturally, Caws takes the least grim possible position: that we're lucky enough to age into a place where the world we want is ours for the taking.
"It's amazing how much time love saves you at first," Caws sings to open the song, adding, "when you rediscover your reason to work." His words add up to a lovely sentiment — the idea that love creates a new reality by enriching and validating the mundane — before the song explodes into a richly realized power-pop chorus: "When I was young / I didn't know if I was better off asleep or up / Now I've grown up / I wonder, what was that world I was dreaming of?" Caws stops short of declaring youthful fantasies obsolete, but he makes a good case for embracing our lives as we've decided to live them.