Nada Surf – If I Had A Hi-Fi
June 8, 2010
Giving their covers album a palindrome as a title is great of course, but we need to ask ourselves a question here. Were we really waiting on the indiepop pioneers of Nada Surf to present us with a record full of cover songs? Breaking through with their 90s hit single Popular, Nada Surf never really reached the same commercial success again, but they are received extremely well as a live act and their fan base is still steadily growing.
To answer the question, no, we weren’t waiting for that. They are much more than just a cover band, so it’s too bad there is no original material to enjoy. But having said that, the album doesn’t feel like a covers album. Nada Surf makes the songs their own and at the same time they stay true to the original songs. Matthew Caws is an excellent vocalist and the band is a very cohesive unit. Songs like Enjoy The Silence (Depeche Mode) and Question (Moody Blues) may not be the most surprising choices for cover songs, but they are done tastefully and musically entertaining.
The best covers however are Love Goes On (The Go-Betweens) and I Remembered What I Was Going To Say (The Silly Pillows) where the renditions Nada Surf serves us with are actually quite deep and it’s on those songs where the band is able to really connect the songs and their artists with themselves and with both the audience of the original artist and their own fanbase. It’s on those songs where it really comes together.
Other cover songs (originals by Spoon, Kate Bush, Soft Pack & Bill Fox, among others) are done tastefully as well and are worth listening to, but can’t impress as much as the previously mentioned songs. Nada Surf does show a wide range of influences and interesting artists and they show they are more than capable to cover their songs very well, but in the end there is still a feeling of, well, disappointment. While the covers are good it is not really what you want to hear from Nada Surf. It’s their quirky, intelligent mix of indie pop and alternative rock that makes them so attractive to listen to. And honestly, it comes across much better when they can be creative with originals instead of reworking a cover song.