The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

Band: Nada Surf
Album: The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy
Best song: “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” is the best song on the record, hands down.
Worst song: “Teenage Dreams” is boring and typical.

I prefer not to talk about my actual job here on my blog — and I’m not starting now, certainly — but I’ll simply say that my job has kept me very busy in the last month or so. Nevertheless, I apologized on Twitter for this and received a request to write about the new Nada Surf album.

I last wrote about Nada Surf more than three years ago. I lauded the song “See These Bones” as a minor philosophical tome, largely because I was dealing with the recent passing of a close friend. As has been mentioned, music makes us feel a certain way because of a time in our lives.

As such, I really fell into Lucky. Taking a step back, Nada Surf is often, as I’ve said about Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, paint-by-numbers indie rock. But, Lucky isn’t the type of thing with supreme staying power, despite its place in my heart.

The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy is similar. The latter half of the record is outstandingly forgettable as the band falls into the same sort of straight-up rock music that spawned a million Gin Blossom-wannabes (though, of course, Nada Surf is multitudes better than the Gin Blossoms). It’s 4/4 rock and roll, with two guitars, a harmless Matthew Caws vocal and an easy rhythm. “Teenage Dreams” is the picture of this, as it never crescendos and never loses the same lack of dynamism.

This is, in essence, Nada Surf. They’re stuck in a low gear. Unlike Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s — or, for that matter, LuckyThe Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy never does anything to stand out. “The Moon is Calling” has lyrics of interest, as Caws recounts a story of companionship amidst technology and the future. But, musically, not even a little Cars-esque keyboard line can save the song.

Don’t get me wrong, the album is perfectly nice. “Clear Eye Clouded Mind,” for example, is what makes Nada Surf such a likeable band. Lyrically, the use of the universe as a tool to explain the vastness of knowledge is amazing. It’s a smart lyric — and how the entire album gets its name — to use the meaning of the name of Mars and the mythology of the god of war:

The stars are indifferent to astronomy
And all that we think we know
Mars will salute your autonomy
But he doesn’t need to know

But, sadly, this is the first track on the record, undoubtedly, the highlight of the record. The rest is not much and, again, easily forgettable.

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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