Sunday, December 28, 2008

Most Underrated Album of 2008

Like the year's most overrated album, the year's most underrated album was equally difficult to come up with. Wolf Parade had At Mount Zoomer, Bob Mould and Matt Pryor both released really good solo albums this year, The Helio Sequence gave us a really good electro-acoustic album, and most people cruelly forgot The Magnetic Fields' Distortion about a week after it was released. But the most unfairly overlooked album of the year is...

Lucky by Nada Surf

I really like Barsuk-era Nada Surf. Their first album sounded like warmed over Better Than Ezra, and that might be the worst thing I've ever written about an album. But everything since then has been undeniably fantastic. Over the years they've jettisoned the sarcasm of their debut and instead gotten more emotive and articulate with their lyrics and music. However, for Nada Surf emotive and articulate tend to translate into somewhat downtrodden. Not here, though. Lucky finds singer/lyricist Matthew Caws cautiously upbeat. "Behind ever desire is another one/Waiting to be liberated when the first one is sated," he sings on "Weightless." Not exactly the most uplifting sentiment, but there is a lot of excitement in the potential of new desires, and it is this excitement that Nada Surf tap into. Musically, the group is sounding more laid back than ever, this is mid-tempo pop/rock territory we're in here. This is the album you could play for your grandparents, have them not be offended by it, and still have it be a pretty legit album. This isn't to say that Lucky is toothless. There is plenty of bitterness on the album. "Look alive, see these bones/ what you are now we were once/ Try as they might, no one's immune to/ misfiring and acting on the wrong clues," we hear on the album's opener, "See These Bones." But eventually the bitterness is swallowed up by the power pop prowess on display here, and we're left with an album that really did deserve more recognition than it got.

See These Bones - Nada Surf

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