BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #22 Album Of 2016: Nada Surf’s “You Know Who You Are”


Nada Surf songwriter Matthew Caws tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, and relationships remain a recurring theme on the bittersweet You Know Who You Are, this great band’s eighth LP (seventh if you don’t count 2010’s covers effort If I Had A Hi-Fi). Recently married, Caws doesn’t shy away from past hurt; on the Stones-y “Animal,” he laments, “I forgot that’s what people do/They pair off two by two/Until one of them turns blue.” But the gorgeous, jangly “Rushing” finds him physically and mentally enthralled by love: “I haven’t landed since I don’t know when/Now I feel like I can breathe again.” If there’s any quibble about You Know Who You Are, it could use more of the modest, talented—but not modestly talented—guitarist Doug Gillard. While it’s not as if his contributions aren’t vital to the vibe throughout, his exquisite 35-second solo on “Friend Hospital” is the only time he’s really unleashed; it’s a shining moment that begs for a repeat. But this is nitpicking: You Know Who You Are is further evidence that Nada Surf’s impeccable catalog stands among the finest of its generation. Those who get it? You know who—well, you know.

—Matt Hickey