Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Grant Johnson at Good Danny's, Austin, Texas
On "Teenage Dreams," Nada Surf's Matthew Caws and Ira Elliot sing about sometimes asking the wrong questions, but still getting the right answers. We're not sure what questions they're asking, but they might mean to follow this sort of path:
-- You look too young to be so sad. How did you get this way?
-- What, if anything, can I do to help you with that?
-- Why does this sting? Why does that sting?
-- How old are you, did you say? How old do you think I look? Would you believe me if I told you that you were way off, on both accounts - your age and mine?
-- What do you see when you look in the mirror?
-- What are you filled with?
-- What do you wish you had more of? Less of?
-- What would make you happier?
-- Can you help me with my happiness, while we're at it?
Nada Surf has always given life lessons, or nudged us toward thinking about our ultimate comfortableness, or our standing with general happiness and satisfaction. There's always a pull or a push to conform, to make things easier on yourself, to succumb to bullying and other outside forces, but that's always going to turn out worse. Caws gives us words, as if they were coming from an older brother who's been through plenty of jams, dealt with a bunch of asshole people and figured out that there's a lot of the rat race that's best left severed, or cut off at the pass. What matters most is how you're getting along.
He asks, "Are you dancing?/Are you dancing at all?" on "Looking Through," and suggests a few beats later, "You should be dancing." It's easy to lose sight of that simple idea. It's the one chance to dance. Go for it. Caws and Elliot sing about how a break-dancer in the subway can bring them to tears. Those could be read as tears of joy, for the plight of performing such an act, to express oneself so nakedly and hope that it will result in enough tips to eat that day is about as beautiful as anything can ever get.
Nada Surf Official Site