Album Review: Nada Surf, "if I had a hi-fi"

No, not a typing mistake, that's how they titled it.  It's very e.e. cummings of them, although I don't know why the "I" gets capitalized when the rest doesn't.  Seems self-important to me.

Honestly, Nada Surf could have just told me this was a new album and I would have believed them, at least until I heard the cover of Depheche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," but even then I probably would have considered it a one off.  Aside from "The Anger of Laffitte," a rather obscure Spoon song, I don't know any of the songs on this album of covers.  Points to Nada Surf, though, for doing their fellow song writers a service, because now I'm determined to go find the original versions of all of these tracks.

This should be no surprise, given my documented love of covers.

I do have to wonder, though, given that "Enjoy the Silence" is the most well known of all these songs, why Nada Surf decided to make Bill Fox's "Electrocution" the single.  Everyone knows that cover songs get regular air play on whichever MTV still shows music videos (just ask Alien Ant Farm).  It's been long enough, too, that I can't imagine many people seeing that theoretical video and saying "hey, didn't those guys sing 'Popular?'"

They are, in fact, the band that sang "Popular," and they're a damn good band who have put out their fair share of damn good albums.  "IIHAH-F" is no different (not only is it impossible to start a sentence with, it's also impossible to abbreviate).  While I might not be able to easily distinguish between the original and the Nada Surf version (only because I haven't heard most of these originals), a good song is a good song.

Stand outs so far include the aforementioned "Enjoy the Silence" and "Electrocution," as well as the oh-so Nada Surf sounding "Love Goes On," originally performed by the Go Betweens.  The Moody Blues' epic "Question" feels like multiple songs crammed together, but ultimately works on its own.  Mercomina's "Evolution" gives us yet more indications that Nada Surf will be experimenting with orchestration in the future, something I couldn't be happier about.

For the band's standpoint, it's the willingness to add keyboards and strings to these songs that will have the most long term impact.  The band has on sparsely expanded beyond their power trio trappings, but IIHAH-F at least suggests that experimentation on their originals is on the horizon.