Nada Surf EP +3
IfIHadAHiFi is the rare band that hasn’t gotten comfortable after over a decade of making music. Whereas 2008’s Fame By Proxy was a tight work of progressive noise rock, Nada Surf EP +3 is all over the place. The new disc continues the band’s trend toward more spacey, esoteric effects, but it also goes for the throat with a couple of huge, straight-ahead rock sucker-punches. Witness the lumbering drums and monstrous, guttural riff of “We Fiddle, You Burn” juxtaposed with a brain-frazzling laser pulse canon; or the insistent vocal hooks and whining guitar leads of “Somebody Take The Damn Money.” Weird, but engineered to suck you in.
If anything, frantic tracks like “Minotaur Documentation” and epic centerpiece “All Hail Magnets” push farther into cacophony than anything the band has previously recorded, and the blistering, trebly production perfectly captures the energy of a HiFi live show. (Credit goes to Thom Geibel and Milwaukee music scene MVP Shane Hochstetler, who recorded and mixed the album, respectively.)
You might be surprised to learn, upon examining Nada Surf’s lyrics, that the band that released “Imperial Walker” last spring has leftist political tendencies. Don’t fret; if you can’t appreciate the clever plays-on-words and sometimes hilarious pop culture skewers that punctuate the album (the title itself is a nod to Nada Surf’s 2010 covers album, If I Had A Hi-Fi), maybe words aren’t your thing.
The in-your-face mix helps make the EP feel scattered, almost tossed off, but definitely urgent; Dr. Awkward’s drumming in particular has never sounded so bombastic. There’s nothing here as instantly catchy as “Black Holes Resonate” or “Get Killed, Get Noticed” (both from Proxy), but in terms of visceral impact, this is the band’s most powerful work yet. Whatever this record lacks in cohesiveness, it makes up for with ingenious songs. Who cares about “albums” anyway?
Listen to Nada Surf +3 here.