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Album Review: Nada Surf - if i had a hi-fi

if i had a hi-fi

(Mardev Records)

The popular wisdom on covers is that a good one involves two elements. The first is making sure the band covering the material puts a bit of themselves into the songs; the other is paying a proper, accurate tribute to the original song. These two often work at cross purposes, making great covers rare. When Nada Surf announced plans to release an entire album of cover songs, it seemed like a bit of ambitious undertaking that could easily go horribly awry. The album, if i had a hi-fi, was finally released this week, and it seems like Nada Surf pulled it off, but they did it in their own unique and uncompromising way.

Nada Surf had no problem adding their own twist to cover songs. In fact, it was easy to listen to hi-fi, and forget that it's an album of other people's songs. It seems more like just another Nada Surf album, which may sound a little lackluster, but don't forget that sounding like "just another Nada Surf album" sounds pretty amazing.

However, if Nada Surf always end up sounding like themselves, are they paying proper tribute to the original artists? This is where the Brooklyn band gets clever. For the most part, they aren't picking big hits. The more popular songs, such as Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" or The Moody Blues' "Question," end up hitting the listener by surprise. It's like they sneak them in there to remind you that it's a cover album (which takes a minute or two of listening to recognize with the Nada Surf-ish element the band places on their version), while the fact that the lesser known material (forgotten bands from the 80s, singles that never quite hit the Top 40, etc.) is even included seems to be fitting tribute enough.

Ultimately, it's a solid record. Indie rock fans know what to expect from Nada Surf these days. It won't surprise anyone, but it won't disappoint either!

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