Melody and muscle aren’t always mutually compatible, given the fact that many times one precludes the other. Nevertheless, there are instances one trait can actually enhance to the other, as bands like Cheap Trick, the Raspberries, Queen and Green Day have proven in the past. Nada Surf falls into the same general category, although in their case it’s difficult to discern which element holds dominance over the other. Nevertheless, it’s that adroit combination of relentless energy and ever-effusive melodies that have distinguished them over the past twenty years, allowing them to deliver album after album of effusive insurgency.
You Know Who You Are is certainly no exception, and if some of the material occasionally seems hushed or restrained, there’s more than enough propulsive rockers to ensure the propulsion remains intact. The album’s best selections are its most invigorating, namely the three arena sized anthems at its core — “New Bird,” “Out of the Dark” and “Rushing,” a trio of songs that capture the essence of their insistent delivery. While they vary in tempo and pacing, each makes a compelling case as to why Nada Surf is one of the most engaging and exuberant bands around nowadays, as well as one of the most melodic.
That’s no minor statement. The New York-based ensemble, currently consisting of Matthew Caws (guitar, vocals), Ira Elliot (drums), Doug Gillard (guitar) and Daniel Lorca (bass, backing vocals), is still operating below the radar, but their hook-laden tunes beg the question as to why they aren’t better known. Indeed, since the beginning, they’ve been consistently making music that immediately gets under the skin and creates an emphatic impression from the get-go. Likewise, there’s not a single song here that doesn’t demand repeated listens. Both wistful and resolved, You Know Who You Are makes it clear that Nada Surf remains at the peak of their prowess.