Since the release of High/Low twenty years ago, Nada Surf have been releasing consistently great records, and their latest release You Know Who You Are, is another great record in the band’s long catalog. For a long time, the band had a formula to rely on, the combination of singer/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca, and drummer Ira Elliot defined the Nada Surf sound, and, in 2012, Nada Surf brought on guitarist Doug Gillard, formerly of Guided by Voices, which expanded the sound quite nicely. Nada Surf had been working on You Know Who You Are for quite some time with Caws saying “we wanted to get it right”.
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Right out of the gate, You Know Who You Are is unmistakably Nada Surf. “Cold To See Clear” was an early single from the record and a perfect opener. Caws’ voice floats over a guitar intro before the band channels its energy into the track. The next two tracks are drenched in melancholy. “Believe You’re Mine” is gorgeous, and Caws sings “One day, I’ll love somebody else, one day I’ll take care of myself”. The next track, “Friend Hospital” is a heartwrencher, about being a shoulder to cry on. “New Bird” brings in a Nada Surf roar.
The second half of You Know Who You Are is a really nice mix of styles as well. “Out of The Dark” features some horns and acoustic guitar, a great change of pace after “New Bird”. “Rushing” shows off the band’s versatility and also proves why Lorca is one of the best bassists out there today. “Animal” sounds almost like it would fit in on a Wilco record. The title track “You Know Who You Are” picks up the pace once more. “Gold Sounds” keeps the pace up as it leads into the triumphant closer “Victory’s Yours”.
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Nada Surf got You Know Who You Are right. It’s powerful, melancholy and triumphant. It’s optimistic despite the sadness, and that’s something we all need. The addition of Gillard really shines throughout as well, with some really awesome solos and intricate guitar work that Nada Surf did not have without him. The rest of the band is excellent as well throughout, Elliot’s energy is great throughout and Lorca is just a force on bass.
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