Nada Surf – Let Go

Nada SurfLet Go (Barsuk)

Yes, we may be in the year 2003. But everywhere you look on MTV or modern rock radio, shades of the mid-90s are everywhere haunting us, reminding us the mistake we made by supporting the artists of this now obsolete era in the first place. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between Creed and Candlebox, or Nickelback and Seven Mary Three. Weezer are still hanging around, albeit a shell of their collective former self. Superdrag made a career out of “Who Sucked out the Feeling?” that lasted until the band broke up a couple of months ago, an incredible feat for a one-hit wonder. The same can be said for Nada Surf, who amazingly are back with a second wind and a new album.

The sad part of it all is that there is nothing to be found on Let Go, Nada Surf’s third album, that didn’t die out almost a decade ago. Sure, the band may be on upper-tier indie label Barsuk now, and they might be more akin to texturing their songs with multiple layers of instruments (surely the influence of sharing labels with Death Cab for Cutie), but underneath it all is the same ordinary rock that was once cutting-edge, now relegated to Coors Light commercials (see: “Hi-Speed Soul”).

None of the songs on Let Go pass for even a fraction of memorable—after repeated listens there still aren’t any melodies that stick out. “Blonde on Blonde”, for example, tries to be touching and instead just drags on. “Cats and dogs are coming down / 14th St. is gonna drown / Everyone else rushin’ round / I’ve got Blonde on Blonde on my portable stereo / It’s a lullabye from a giant golden radio.” The lyrics rely on 8th grade symbolism and blatant name-dropping, but in the end they still can’t hide the fact that the song is just boring. Nada Surf must love the loping pace “Blonde on Blonde” walks along, however, because the band alternates between “rockers” and songs that follow the same formula as “Blonde on Blonde” (minus the Bob Dylan references).

I will give credit where it’s due, and “Treading Water” is a diamond in the rough. It’s the only song that attempts energetic and actually finds it. Still, one out of twelve isn’t nearly good enough to warrant giving Let Go a chance, unless you’re actually looking for a mid-90s alterna-lite revival. Otherwise, ignore all of the hype that has come with the band’s drop to the indies and second rise to popularity. Like our faithful leader Dubbya says, “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me tw— …can’t get fooled again.”

18 thoughts on “Nada Surf – Let Go”

  1. Are you mad??? This album is breeeliant!!!

    just kidding. never heard it, that “popular” song was assenine though

  2. this site has some of the worst journalism ive ever read. im not a huge fan of nada surf but ive heard “inside of love” and a few of the other songs on that album, and only a clueless donkey would say there is nothing “memorable” on it. total fabric elitism.

  3. “Superdrag made a career out of “Who Sucked out the Feeling?” that lasted until the band broke up a couple of months ago, an incredible feat for a one-hit wonder”.

    You should probably do some research before you write your reviews and make comparisons. Superdrag has not broken up, and “Last Call for Viterol” was a great album.

    As for Nada Surf, it’s good to see a band come back from a one hit wonder and still get some press. Their previous album had none.


    According to Superdrag’s web site, after their current tour they’re on “extended break”. I’ve done my research just fine, thank you.

    As for Nada Surf, I won’t even begin an argument with you, because an argument consists of both sides backing their opinions. Calling me a clueless donkey does nothing to solidify your point. Give me some reasons why you think the album is good and I’ll hear them out. I’ve got nothing against different tastes in music, but support your opinion like an adult.

  5. Tom, you are really clueless when it comes to reviews. You’re ignorant. Plain and simple. You think you are a music fan? I spit on people like you who criticize music and have have absolutely no good comments or incite. You should not be a music reviewer. Stick to being a donkey!

  6. besides the fact that this review is just a retread of what rob mitchum put up on pitchfork, i think it is just a case of different opinions. i agree with most of the reviews tom has written, but i also think let go is one of the better albums i have heard this year so far. it has some of the best vocal harmonies i have listened to, and the fact that it alternates between slow and fast songs is not a reason to criticize it. although there are not any hugely memorable songs i find myself reaching for the cd over and over again.

    but i guess it is easier for reviewers to make fun of 90s bands like Nada Surf rather than to listen to it in context. Let go really sounds nothing like their debut.

  7. I’m just a hack journalist and so-called writer, but my two cents on ‘Let Go’ is that it’s going for a sort of common ground between Sloan and Grandaddy. I’m not sure if they succeed fully, but I will say that ‘Let Go’ is a much more accomplished album than anything the band released in the 90s, especially ‘Proximity Effect’, which I thought was really boring and didn’t really do anything with its jumble of influences and sounds.


  8. It’s reassuring to see that despite previous comparisons to Weezer, and the one hit wonder status that have plagued them since “Popular”, Nada Surf return after a 3 year hiatus with an engaging, gimmick-free collection of top-notch guitar pop. Yes, the crunchy guitars are in the mix, but there’s a lot more subtlety, maturity and definition to their sound on Let Go. That doesn’t mean the tunes don’t rock: on the contrary, this is what a band sounds like when they’ve assessed their gifts and weaknesses, balanced them out, and delivered their very best. And this comes from someone who never really liked them. Yet, this record has become a mainstay on my cd player for 4 months now.

    “Blizzard of ’77”, “Fruit Fly”, “Blonde On Blonde”, “Killian’s Red”, “Treading Water” and “Paper Boats”, are all winners in my book. Too bad you don’t feel the same way, Tom.

  9. I’ve never read a senseless review, we all know that opinions vary, but atleast say something that makes sense or else keep it to yourself…

    I quote one of the catastrophes written above :

    ” The lyrics rely on 8th grade symbolism and blatant name-dropping ”

    Who are you to judge the lyrics…and who are you to judge the music, that style or whatever you want to call mid 90’s

    your review makes me sick, i hope that atleast it satisfies you.

  10. I saw Nada Surf live in Albany, NY in June, and it was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

    How you can simply cast aside nearly every song on the record is beyond my realm of reasoning. It’s an excellent, coherent album from a band that was seldom given a chance after their ubiquitous hit, “Popular” faded into one-hit-wonderdom.

    I suggest you walk blindly into traffic.

  11. This album has been out since February, but obviously no one thought THAT much about Let It Go or they would’ve written their own glowing review. Personally, I don’t have anything good to say about the album, so I don’t see how Tom even mustered up enough niceness to even write this review.

    Can anyone say Crapolllllllaaaaa?????

  12. After reading Tom’s ass-kissing review of “Hail To The Thief” it’s easy to see why he panned this album. I’m sure he’s among the other radiohead zombies who state every band who uses a keyboard or has a singer who sings an octave above scott stapp is vying to be the next radiohead.

    “Let it go” may not be the “greatest most fascinating, genius, groundbreaking, revolutionary, did I say best…. and best album that makes me discredit all other bands from this time on.. blah fucking blah” – but it certainly deserves more credit than Sir Tom gave it.


  13. I disagree with the reviewer. After delivering pizza’s for 3 months this CD always finds it’s way back to the player. I think the harmonies are great to hear (maybe not the most mind blowing stuff ever, but it sounds good.) This band has zero pretense and they write a good pop song. Killian’s Red is a song that has happened to everybody. This album has simple lyrics, which doesn’t mean childish. Good melodies, good rythm section, and an album full of strong songs. Great summer disc.

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