Nada Surf – Never Not Together

It's business as usual for Nada Surf on their ninth studio album, Never Not Together

Album Review by Pete Wild | 06 Feb 2020
  • Nada Surf – Never Not Together
Album title: Never Not Together
Artist: Nada Surf
Label: City Slang
Release date: 7 Feb

If it ain’t broke, don't fix it. That seems to be the raison d'être of Nada Surf’s ninth album, Never Not Together. You want urgent, chiming, resonant guitar noises coupled with thoughtful, contemplative lyrics, sweet vocals, catchy pop hooks and what might once have been called college rock sensibility? It’s all here, in spades.

So Much Love kicks things off, a Nada Surf classic that manages to somehow recall Semisonic’s Secret Smile and – in the descending piano scale that accompanies the chorus – The Bangles’ Manic Monday. If you’re not frightened off by either comparison, and you’re unfamiliar with Nada Surf, this might be all you need to convince you that this is up your street.

But there’s more: Come Get Me conjures up all of the sweeter songs in the Buffalo Tom catalogue (those songs sung by Chris Colbourn rather than Bill Janowitz). Live Learn and Forget could be Tears for Fears (with its Head over Heels-style choppy piano). Something I Should Do leans in the direction of Weezer when they're at their most playful (the synth is straight out of the Toto covers book), even as frontman Matthew Caws’ spoken word delivery conjures up Matt Berninger on The National’s recent Not in Kansas.

Aside from the heavenly chorus that opens the title track, this feels very much like business as usual – which is no bad thing. Nada Surf are a fine guitar pop band. There’s not much sense on Never Not Together of them looking to change things up, throw the template out the window and start over. When they get it right, as they do on Mathilda (‘my voice was kind of high’, Caws sings, ‘not a typical guy’), which melds the whole acoustic/electric thing to good effect, it works.

It might not be a ride into the unknown (as the final song suggests) but it’ll do until Nada Surf decide to take all the wrong drugs, lose their shit and record a triple concept album about a holiday in Marrakesh.

Listen to: So Much Love, Mathilda