"See These Bones" by Nada Surf
On album number five, Nada Surf still occupies a murky middle ground between mainstream pop and straightforward indie-rock, resulting in modern power-pop that's ready for primetime teen dramas or Subaru commercials. Lucky makes the most of the formula made popular by Death Cab For Cutie—Chris Walla produced this album and Ben Gibbard guests—as the venerated Brooklyn trio behind it moves expertly from rootsy tearjerkers ("Lightning") to positive, upbeat alt-contemporary driving songs ("From Now On," "Ice On The Wing") with ease. The moody old-school indie-rock of "The Fox" checks in late and feels challenging in comparison, serving as a reminder that Nada Surf was toiling around the early-'90s seven-inch scene years before garnering a fluke radio hit (1996's "Popular"), and years before Weezer stole the spotlight with an uncannily similar sound. It isn't bad for a band that could just as well have disappeared into obscurity.