Nada Surf EP

Written by: TL on 14/10/2011 15:29:45

Reviewing as many bands as I do, many of which I've never heard of prior to getting their album, I've learned that a pretty good measuring stick for whether I've correctly applied grades of 7 or less, is that I'll have real trouble remembering what a band sounds like if I'm put on the spot to do so a year or two removed from writing the review. This would explain why I'm reviewing IfIHadAHifi again, despite being quite underwhelmed with their last effort. Frankly, when I signed up for their new "Nada Surf EP", I had briefly confused them with this band.

Conclusion: I'm a bit of an idiot.

Anyway, I doubt many of you will have any clue about who either band is or what they sound like. IfIHadAHifi are a quartet of dudes from Milwaukee who play a brand of uncompromising noise/punk/core that frankly gets in the face of everything I normally appreciate in music. Forget how the word 'punk' is mostly used these days. You'll find no buzzy yet warm guitar melodies here, nor any raw yet sentimental vocals or nostalgic songs about hometowns, best friends, ex-girlfriends etc. What you'll get is a truck load of noisy feedback, distortion and discord, crashing drums and tuneless yelling, delivered with no hint of relent or compromise whatsoever.

The "Nada Surf EP" - thus named as a reaction to alternative rock band Nada Surf naming their 2010 album "If I Had A Hi-Fi" (and possibly to earn cheap buzz riding a bigger band, the last IfIHadAHifi record was named "Fame By Proxy" after all) - presents us with five songs, plus three 'bonus tracks', plus, in my case, an extra track called "Imperial Walker", which is only included on promotional copies for some reason. The record was due to come out late in September, but due to a copyright issue with some of the samples the band uses, it has been pushed back to early 2012. I'm going to review it now anyway though, because frankly, I think most of it sounds bloody awful, and here's why:

I'm all for making music with attitude. I'm all for experimenting with unconventional sounds and trying to shake up the conformity of the music scene. I think unusual musical elements function especially well when intertwined with more traditional ones, creating a dynamic where one offsets the other and makes for a nice contrast. That's just not how IfIHadAHifi work. Their goal rather seems to be to melt your face at any and all moments. Is a record full of nothing but that approach a perfect of manifestation of a band's uncompromising punk mindset? Absolutely. Is it very interesting to listen to? Can't say that I think so.

In fact, trying to find something to like about "Nada Surf EP" is probably one of the harder things I've had to do recently, and I've more or less failed miserably. I feel like whenever I put it on, I direct my attention towards opening track "We Fiddle, You Burn" as much as I can, but after a little while, the cells in my brain's aesthetic department just sends me a message that says: "Ok, we get it, this band wants to make non-conformist noise. Now what?" As far as I can tell, that's it, and it just doesn't fly when compared to the many other bands I listen to. They might not be all that great, and they might be more traditional and boring than IfIHadAHifi - but at least their music is trying to build something. This band seems to only want to play with the negative, destructive sounds in music, and in all honesty, I think the novelty of that wears off much too fast.


Download: Arson, You Let Me Down
For The Fans Of: imagine a band, inside a container, fused on a roller coaster, trying to play music....
Listen: ifihadahifi.bandcamp.com

Release Date 27.09.2011
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