This is the kind of album that, to the few who really get it, will become a treasured...
Chris Jones 2008
Eschewing their previous tendencies to be seemingly maudlin for the sake of it, this, their fifth album, see caws, Elliott and Lorca turning their natural gift for hooky power-pop towards (slightly) more optimistic ends. This isn't to say that it's all cheery sunshine-fuelled chart fodder. Lucky contains enough existentialism to keep a boat-load of Frenchmen unhappy. But its main strength is its maturity. The band have now outgrown their somewhat competent-yet-unremarkable origins that saw them pushed into the same league as Weezer or the Shins and now seem poised to reclaim the crown of purveyors of gorgeous misery.
It's significant that two members of another Byrdsian, Beatlesque (blah blah) band, Death Cab For Cutie, turn up here, as well as members of Calexico and Ed Harcourt. All have grown into arch promoters of the doctrine of beauty within bleakness. It's Death Cab's producer, John Goodmanson who takes the helm here again, and for the most part it's a clean-cut REM-like sheen he brings to the proceedings. Songs like From Now On and Ice On The Wing are irrepressibly upbeat and, well...jangly.
The flipside of all this bouncy fun and terrific tunage is the lyrical content; still brimming with fatalism, albeit a paradoxically happy kind. First track See These Bones uses the metaphor of a visit to a tomb to warn all young pretenders as to what's in store: ''What you are now we were once/But just like we are you'll be dust''. Also the final track, The Film Did Not Go Round, looks at the inevitable failure of relationships while wrapped in the album's most beautifully sombre melody. Elsewhere a song like The Fox, with its skewed time signature, shows how sophisticated this stuff really can be.
With Lucky, Nada Surf have perhaps shown that a genre that seemed spent has legs yet. This is the kind of album that, to the few who really get it, will become a treasured companion.