The art of being kind (to yourself)
For fans of the indie rock genre, Nada Surf is almost like an old friend. But Never Not Together is nothing like the bands start in the ’90s. The songs are very pop-influenced, and the sound is uplifting. In a time when people’s attention spans seem to get shorter and shorter, most of the songs are quite long with an average playtime of four minutes. But life lessons like in “Live Learn & Forget” don’t come fast either, they need time.
The album starts with “So Much Love,” and it is probably one of the best feeling songs in a really long time. Life can really drag you down and it’s hard not to feel cynical every once in a while, but this song feels like a doctor’s prescription for cynicism, like the lines, “you’re never alone, not the only one/ just try to be good and be less fake/ but not beat myself up when I make mistakes.” It’s hard to stay negative while listening to this song.
“Come Get Me” has another therapeutical aspect. It’s almost like the band is talking about past childhood trauma and walls that were build up to guard someone. The sound and the lyrics support a feeling of letting go of fear and letting one’s guard down. “Live Learn & Forget,” like “So Much Love” pleads for more forgiveness, especially towards oneself. “Just Wait” takes on a slower pace but offers a deeply positive message, which comes as no surprise in such a therapeutically album.
“Something I Should Do” contains some spoken parts, like in the band’s breakthrough song “Popular” from 1996. This makes the song more personal and thoughtful. The message also gets clearer: social media is ruining our happiness. One line should stand out for people, “empathy is good, lack of empathy is bad.” The intro to “Looking for You” is by a children’s choir, which already tells listeners that the five-minute-long song is rather slow but eventually the song erupts during the chorus and fans even get a little guitar solo. The song has some heavenly vibes all around.
The main theme of “Crowded Star” seems to be about change and how love can affect the change of people. Sometimes there is an urge to change your life but then a new, exciting person appears. “Mathilda” is the longest song on the album with a time of six minutes. The intro shows the audience that children can be mean to each other, but the song is about a bigger issue: expectations to one’s gender, especially how to feel and to behave. “Mathilda” is a surprisingly critical song in an album that is centered around positivity. It’s great that the band made this an issue as well because this is a tricky issue that has a hold on many people.
Never Not Together ends with a positive note with a “Ride in the Unknown.” For people with anxiety the line “now the lights are all turned out/ find your peace and find some sleep,” probably is the most important lesson to take away from the song and the album. Never Not Together is a great album for people who are struggling with self-care and self-love. The album is all in all positive and yet the band was not afraid to tackle controversial topics, which makes the album exceptional.