Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's inaugural entry is #42: See These Bones by Nada Surf (2008)
Nada Surf - See These Bones (mp3 EXPIRED)
The first time I saw the Popular video in the summer of 1996, my lasting impression was the glasses Matthew Caws was wearing. (Well, the glasses AND the head Bee – what a harlot!) Viewing it now, you realize the frames are just a component of the teacher costume, but having no prior reference of the band at the time, it was quite easy to dismiss the glasses (and the song in general) as a clear aping of Weezer in their hey day. At the time, if you would have told me that 13 years later, one of these two bands would still be putting out great work, and the other would basically become a joke, I would have completely agreed. But of course, my prediction on which band was which would have been the exact opposite of how it’s turned out.
Lucky is not a great album. It’s not bad by any means, but it seems sleepier and more boring than any of the previous three Nada Surf albums. That said, "See These Bones" is not only the exception to an otherwise unremarkable offering, but in actuality might be the most perfect song the band has written. It’s a pastiche of all the things they do great. The layered arpeggios, haunting reverb, effortless phrasing, and pitch-perfect harmonies are unmistakable. It also showcases the band’s underrated skill for constructing songs in a far more elaborate manner than standard pop song sequencing. Throughout the first half of the song, you’re led to believe the “Look alive…” sequence to be the chorus, but then three minutes in, “The Lights in the City…” comes in with the same progression, but completely different melody. Then the two sequences battle head to head for the final minute! Seriously, I could listen to that last minute looping two or three more times. It’s never quite enough, and there aren’t many five-minute songs that leave you wanting more.