I have been following Nada Surf's efforts for the better part of fifteen years, and it's always interesting to see what these guys will do next, as every new album seems to become, in many ways, my favorite of their works. Many people have remarked that this album feels "more upbeat" than the previous two, and I think I would have to agree with this to some extent, but the passion that fans of Nada Surf are used to hearing in their work is very much as prevalent on this album as ever before. I like the "brighter side of love" themes of the songs. If their album Let Go was a rainy-Sunday-afternoon type of album, then Lucky is more like a sunny-Saturday album. From a lyrical and production standpoint, it seems like the band had a little more fun with this album. As much as this is the same Nada Surf that fans have grown to love with plenty of familiar sounds, as on previous albums Lucky has its share of new sounds that old fans will appreciate just as much. In short, on the whole I think this album gives fans a more musically sophisticated Nada Surf, and with a variety of songs, I can see Lucky becoming my favorite of their albums. Also, I really enjoyed the bonus songs of this Limited Edition, particularly the acoustic versions of two songs from the albums.
For completeness of this review, my impressions of some of the individual songs are as follows...
"From Now On" and "Ice on the Wing" - Two very strong Nada Surf songs of the sound and momentum that have somewhat defined their past couple of albums. The strong rhythms and harmonies particularly remind me of efforts like "Happy Kid" and "No Quick Fix" off of Let Go, and "Concrete Bed" from The Weight is a Gift."
"I Like What You Say" and "Whose Authority" - As suggested by the previous two reviewers, I would call these songs, along with "See These Bones," as good candidates to immediately grab your attention on a first listen through of the album, as they did for me. I mention them together specifically because the limited edition album includes acoustic versions of these two songs that I have to admit that I like at least as much as the album versions.
"Here Goes Something" - A very interesting and unusual effort from Nada Surf, but I like it all the same. The production and harmonies here make me wonder whether Simon and Garfunkel was playing in the background while this was conceived.
"Beautiful Beat", "Weightless", "Are You Lightning", "The Fox", and "See These Bones" - I feel like these songs are the real strengths of this album, defining it as unique from the previous ones in its musical maturity and sophistication of production. It seems to me that on this album the band enjoyed a little more room to explore new production techniques and touch on some different sounds, not to mention there are some interesting guest appearances throughout these songs and the rest of the album.
This wouldn't be a proper review if I did not include a favorite song off the album. Like many others, "See These Bones" struck me immediately, as indicated above, but "Are You Lightning" has already become one of my favorite Nada Surf songs and certainly my favorite off this album. Caws' vocals are moving as usual, and the bass line, lead guitar (played by Phil Wandscher), and piano (Louie Lino) really fill out this ballad, which begins slow and rhythmically before rising to a beautiful and moving ending.