Something happened during the four years between Nada Surf’s second CD, The Proximity Effect, and their third, Let Go. New York’s indie-rock darlings went from being clever post-punks to introspective, heartsick souls with a knack for minor keys.
“It was kind of like hitting restart,” singer/guitarist Matthew Caws says. “Let Go was kind of like making a first album again.”
Part of the rejuvenation stemmed from Nada Surf’s messy split with Elektra Records, in which they spent two years fighting the label to get the rights to The Proximity Effect.
“Because of some silly sort of pride, we didn’t want to make another record until that one got released, because we put so much work into it,” Caws says.
In the meantime, band members got real jobs. If they sort of forgot about Nada Surf, they never broke up.
“Because we still had the band, it was kind of an excuse to be un-ambitious,” Caws says. “If we had broken up, then we’d really have to find lives. That’s scary. That all added up to a freedom from any kind of obligation to be this way or that.”
You can hear that newfound latitude on Let Go. Instant classics like “Inside of Love” and “Blonde on Blonde” offer intoxicating glimpses into rainy-day doldrums, while the melodies possess Beatles-like magnetism. Once predicted to be just another buzz-bin casualty, Nada Surf has proven, most recently with the even more varied but equally striking “The Weight is a Gift,” that this trio knows its way around a song.
Nada Surf recently finished recording a new album. While it continues down their new path, Caws does say it’s more hopeful than the previous two. Some of the songs even have happy endings.
“Maybe it’s a product of tired of being sad,” Caws says of the new direction. “Sometimes I guess you just have to decide to feel better. So I’m trying to decide to feel better.”