Talking to sheep whilst making your ninth album, probably never crossed the mind of Nada Surf’s guitarist and vocalist Matthew Caws when he started writing the demos, yet for this quintessential U.S. indie band apparently that’s what he did on country walks during recording at Rockfield Studios in Wales, and the serene farmyard surroundings appear to have added a positive sheen to the album’s nine songs.

Recording in the same hallowed ground where Oasis, Echo & The Bunnymen and Iggy Pop have previously gone, has also helped to push the band’s guitar led melodies onto higher plains. In their twenty seven years of existence, they’ve crafted some of the brightest alternative rock tunes of the last few decades, whilst still remaining a cherished band to the U.S. indie underground scene. The challenge for any band who’ve been around that long with numerous albums, is how do you keep motivated to write another one, and what’s going to set this one apart from the rest of your back catalogue whilst remaining true to your fans (and also hopefully gaining a few new ones too). On ‘Never Not Together’, many modern days themes of human connectivity, social isolation and youth culture all combine to ensure album number nine remains firmly rooted in the here and now, with their characteristic knack for a brilliant melodic line fully unleashed as well.

Let’s be honest, they’re not going to write a weird, off the wall, sci-fi opus, or a batch of electro tunes which sound like ten computers being thrown down a flight of stairs at once, what Nada Surf do so well is write upbeat catchy melodies, which isn’t to say they’re meaningless ear fodder, as Caws’ lyrics voyage through some darker topics, yet wrapped in their lush melodic bubble this can be easily overlooked.

Tracks like ‘So Much Love’ and ‘Something I Should Do‘ have melodies which stick in your brain in the same skewed pop genius way as The Hold Steady or Grandaddy, whereas ‘Live, Learn, Forget’ deals with searching for connections and trying to find out who you really are as Caws sings “It’s always what you do next, there’s always another try”. ‘Just Wait’ is a slower lament to not giving up, giving reassurance, and according to Caws was written on a trip to Nashville, recalling the trials and awkwardness of adolescence and youth culture – it’s a song which screams out to be used in some sort of TV show teen drama or film as the credits roll.

Their ninth album may have been four years in the making, but every song has been well worth the wait, as it brims with a melodic fervour few bands manage these days. Nada Surf may have been catapulted into the indie rock circus in the 90’s, but ‘Never Not Together’ feels timeless somehow, songs which carry their indie rock aesthetic and infuse it with a modern day twist. Maybe talking to sheep isn’t that bad after all!

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.